• Travelers head to Cape Cod to see massive marine predators

    2014-07-24

    The Associated Press reported that great white shark sightings are on the rise in Massachusetts' famous Cape Cod region, but instead of sending people scrambling to safety, the trend is actually drawing them to the water in greater numbers.

    Shark city
    Great white sharks may be known to the popular imagination as aquatic predators, but in reality you don't have much to fear from the massive creatures - unless you happen to be a seal. Data from the Florida Museum of Natural Science's Shark Attack File shows that only 106 people in the U.S. have been attacked by an unprovoked great white since 1916, and 13 of those attacks were fatal. The organization's studies have shown that you're more risk of being injured or killed in boating accident than in a shark encounter.

    In fact, it may be seals that are bringing the beasts back in the first place, and that's a good thing. For years, populations of the often-misunderstood shark had been declining, but in the last two years, sightings off Cape Cod have risen from less than two per year to around 20, according to research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It seems the fearsome creatures have benefited from more level-headed humans instituting conservation efforts to protect both the sharks and the gray seals on which they feed.

    Working class heroes
    Tourists and business owners on the Cape seem to take a friendly view of the sharks as well. Cape Cod is already a popular destination for United States travel on the East Coast, and the AP reported that visitors have been flocking to the area to get a chance of seeing one of the sharks. Shops near the beach are happy to oblige. Showing just how little fear these brave swimmers have for the 300-toothed fish, some theaters are reportedly even screening "Jaws," the film that's often credited for making tourists afraid of the sharks in the first place. Local merchants said that great white paraphernalia is flying off the shelves, with one estimating a 500 percent increase in sales on such items.

    Despite the boon that the feeding frenzy has been for the local economy, officials are still warning visitors to use common sense.

    "You have to make sure people understand, if they go to the beach and they see a family of seals there, that's probably not the best place to hang out," Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross told the AP.

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