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Let's Talk Sharks: Beach Managers' Best Safety Tips, Backed by Data

Jennette Barnes
Nathan Sears, natural resources manager and harbormaster for the town of Orleans, spoke Thursday at a press conference on shark safety hosted by the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Beach season is here — and so are the white sharks.

The superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore and other beach managers spoke at Seashore headquarters in Wellfleet Thursday to urge the public to be “shark smart” this summer.

Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said a growing body of research shows white sharks spend significant time hunting in shallow water.

“The initial results are starting to show that sharks spend a lot of time in 15 feet of water or less,” he said.

The National Seashore has been cooperating with the Center for Coastal Studies, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, state researchers and others to learn more about white shark behavior and communicate it to the public.

“The sharks are there all the time,” Carlstom said.

A fatal shark bite off Wellfleet in 2018 and other encounters have drawn public attention to the white shark population.

Shark safety is a matter of changing the culture, said Nathan Sears, natural resources manager and harbormaster for the town of Orleans.

“Our job is to educate the beachgoers to the gravity of the situation so they can change their behavior,” he said.

Sears recommended these precautions:

  • Stay in shallow water, no deeper than waist deep.
  • Be on expansive sandbars, inside the surf break.
  • Avoid deep-water troughs on the edges of sandbars.
  • Go in the water only when water clarity is optimal.
  • Have other people on the beach keep an eye on the sandbars.

He said following those guidelines will minimize the risk of a negative encounter.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.