‘We’ve been bullied out of the water by the sharks’: Rise in great white numbers triggers panic on US beaches
A rise in great white shark sightings is causing panic on beaches on the US east coast, according to reports.Authorities in Cape Cod have put up warning signs and shut down beaches dozens of times in response to an increasing number of sightings.Between July and the first week of August, there have been at least 59 beach closures due to shark sightings on Cape Cod and Islands, in southeastern Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe, with some 42 beach closures occurring in the first week of August alone.One resident, AJ Salerno, told the Wall Street Journal, said he had considered moving after feeling compelled to ban his teenage son from surfing. “We’ve been bullied out of the water by the sharks,” he said.Some authorities have put up warning signs on beaches, reading: “People have been seriously injured and killed by white sharks along this coastline,” while a Massachusetts state researcher who tags great whites said he had his busiest July.Footage circulated online this week showing a 17ft great white shark swimming around a family’s boat just off Cape Cod Bay. One day later, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), a non-profit that raises awareness of great white sharks and runs a project to count the existing population in around Cape Cod, posted a video online showing sea water turning red after a shark attacked a seal.Great white shark numbers are decreasing, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which lists the species as “vulnerable”.But they have flocked to Cape Cod in growing numbers and, according to AWSC, the cape is now the only known place in the northwest Atlantic where white sharks aggregate.Researchers believe the rise in shark sightings might be drive by the US 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which banned catching marine mammals including seals, whales and dolphins and made seal populations thrive just off Cape Cod.With seals being one of the great white sharks’ favoured prey, their abundance attracted the ocean predators.In September last year, a man who died after being bitten by a shark in Cape Cod became Massachusetts’ first shark attack fatality since 1936.Arthur Medici, 26, was boogie-boarding off Newcomb Hollow Beach when the attack took place.Joe Booth, a local fisherman and surfer, said he saw the victim kick something behind him and the flicker of a tail in the water.“I was that guy on the beach screaming, ‘Shark, shark!’” said Mr Booth.“It was like right out of that movie Jaws. This has turned into Amity Island real quick out here.”Shark activity in Cape Cod peaks in the period between August and October. AWSC says that shark attacks on people are rare.