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Ten Cape towns and Nantucket are banding together to find out more about the great white sharks cruising their shorelines.
Officials hope the state will approve a $262,500 grant to expand a tagging program and create signs and brochures to warn and educate beachgoers.
The proposal is part of a regional initiative to address public safety in the face of burgeoning seal and shark populations and an attack on a Denver man by a great white shark last summer.
Oak Bluffs selectmen declined to place a non-binding question on next year’s town election ballot asking voters if they want the town to require the annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament to be a “catch and release” event.
The ballot request came in the form of a petition signed by 10 registered voters, and discussion of the petition generated sharp debate at the regular meeting of selectmen Tuesday night.
Tournament opponents want to prevent the public weigh-in of dead sharks, a spectacle that draws thousands of competitors and spectators to the harbor.
If you’re around Cape Cod, Dr. Gregory Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will be giving a talk today from 2-3pm.
He’ll be discussing the state’s latest research on the growing shark population around Cape Cod.
Officials from communities on Cape Cod are focusing on ways to better share information about the presence of sharks
“The purpose of the meeting was for towns to be proactive, to flush out the issues they need to confront with regard to these animals. We’re at very high seal levels and I don’t know if that will continue and whether it will result in more sharks being in the area, but that appears to be happening,’’ Skomal said.
Citing unruly crowds and a drain on town resources, Oak Bluffs selectmen Tuesday called for changes to the annual Monster Shark tournament held at the Oak Bluffs harbor, including a greater police presence and working more closely with event organizers.
But selectmen voted against putting a petition to change the tournament to catch-and-release only on next year’s town election ballot, which will require petitioners to gather support from 10 per cent of registered voters.
The annual Monster Shark Tournament, put on by the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, is held in July at the Oak Bluffs harbor; contestants compete for cash prizes for catching the largest shark. Spectators crowd the harbor, both on boats and on land, to see sharks hung at the harbor weigh station.
“The policies run the gamut. Some install huge towers for spotting, or have groups of spotters positioned on bluffs,” he said.
Aerial surveys by plane and helicopter and boat patrols are also used. But the majority of communities, he said, post signs, hand out brochures and tell those wanting to go into the water that there is an inherent risk.
“There’s no 100 percent guarantee you will be safe,” he said.
Seal watching is big in this town. It may be as popular as bird watching, or even whale watching, which is available here, for a price.
I like the seals. They have friendly faces and a playful demeanor, and at times they seem aware — and pleased — that so many humans have come to see them.
These seals attract more than tourists. Out yonder in the deep blue Atlantic, off the coast of Cape Cod, there are great white sharks. And they eat seals.
It’s post Labor Day, thank God, and they’re all gone, right?
But just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the Great Whiteslinger with the seals, and have now been spotted in Chatham Harbor. The sharks will behere thorough the holidays, says state Division of Marine Fisheries shark expert GregSkomal , of Martha’s Vineyard, a Discovery Channel contributor.