There have been a few sharks spotted off the Cape Cod beaches again this summer. Saturday morning, August 20th there was a Great White spotted attacking a seal off of Race point beach in Provincetown. Apparently the seal population is responsible for attracting them to the area. As tourists and beach goers flock to the shore during the warm weather you can be sure that there are plenty of wary eyes focused on the water.
Personally, I think it is wonderful that there are still some large predators that live so close to our civilized world. Provided that I don’t get eaten, of course; I am sure that If I were a seal I would feel differently. It is interesting to note how people feel about the sharks that have come to the Cape. Some of us feel it is an amazing opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Great Whites. However, I also know that there are people who are too afraid to go near the water now. Not even I can resist hearing the “Jaws” song in my head even though I hope we can avoid the chaotic panic that was portrayed in that movie. The authorities seem to be doing their part to keep things calm. The signs that were posted at Chatham beach left off with the somewhat lackadaisical warning, “If a shark is sighted, please get out of the water and contact the proper authorities.” One can’t help but chuckle and wonder if they think people would actually stay in the water if a shark were sighted. Seriously, I don’t need anyone to tell me to get out of the water, If I happen to see a shark I will be running across the water like the lord himself.
As reported in the news presently President Obama is vacationing on the Cape and islands right now and I can not help but wonder if the secret service has to circle around him in the water when he goes for a swim. You know, to scare any sharks away. According to National Geographic the president need not worry too much as we humans do not seem to be a favorite on the Great Whites menu. It states on the National Geographic website that great whites, who are naturally curious, are only “sample biting” then releasing. Good to know, I personally feel a lot better knowing that I may just be sampled by a Great White, I guess it is better than being eaten. So you can learn a little bit about the big guys swimming up to the sample bar, the National Geographic website gives us these facts: The Great White is a highly adapted predator, their mouths are lined with up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in several rows, good for sample biting, I guess. They have an exceptional sense of smell to detect their prey, and organs that can sense the tiny electromagnetic fields generated by animals. Their main prey include sea lions, seals, small toothed whales, and even sea turtles, and carrion, humans are not mentioned! The Great White has a slate-gray upper body that helps it to blend in with the sea floor. The sharks get their name from their white underbellies. They are streamlined swimmers with powerful tails that can propel them through the water at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. The Great White can leave the water, breaching like a whale and attack its prey from underneath.
The Great White shark favors cool coastal waters but sadly there is no firm data on the great white’s population. The scientists who study them agree that their numbers are decreasing rapidly however. The causes for this decline are thought to be overfishing and accidental gill net capture. While we all can agree that it may be scary to hear of them swimming off our shores and they may make it harder for us to blindly dive into the water for a swim, the fact remains that the Great White is an endangered species. We need to look at one of the last remaining great predators that inhabit our earth with reverence and respect . It is our responsibility to make sure that our grandchildren will have the same opportunities that we have been blessed with. To be awed by The Great White Shark.