Chatham – It’s the perfect beach day in Chatham for the Longo family of Syracuse, New York, but it’s no vacation to swim in the ocean amid shark warnings. “Maybe our feet. I always enjoy the water but I take the warnings seriously,” said Jason Longo.
Educating the public about great whites is what the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is all about. Shark activity draws tourists to towns like Chatham on Cape Cod.
“They evoke emotion in people, whether it’s fear or excitement, they evoke curiosity,” said Marianne Walsh, the group’s education director.
Six beaches have now set up Shark Smart programs to address pressing questions. Lifeguards can now use a Sharktivity app that alerts them to be seen.
As researchers continue to tag and track the sharks, they’re trying to refine their patterns.
“We’re now trying to dig deeper to get a sense of the times and days when sharks are most likely to be present in this area,” said shark biologist Greg Skomal.
Skomal says the big white attendances so far this year are at last year’s levels, starting in mid-May and now rising with a Spotted Tuesday at True in June. They live in shallower waters because they hunt seals, which are their food source.
“You’re essentially waiting for a seal to loosen and come out and make a mistake. It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said Megan Winton, a research scientist at the conservancy.
It is a game that has attracted public attention for its curiosity and safety. “I’ll probably stick my toes in. I don’t want my kids to be swimming in the water right now,” said Nicole Fachs of Cleveland, Ohio.