Great White Sharks Boom Off Cape Cod, and the Fear Mongering

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By Heat Street Staff | 10:05 pm, June 26, 2017

Is the threat of shark attacks scarier on Cape Cod than on the Gulf Coast? By the amount of coverage the threat in each region receives, you might think New England sharks are vastly more dangerous.

The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries says a great white shark population boom is underway off Cape Cod, with as many as 150 great whites expected in the region this summer, according to a new report in the Boston Herald.

“They have multiplied in numbers exponentially,” said the fire chief of Orleans, a small town on the Cape where lifeguards and emergency medical technicians are being readied with specific plans for shark attacks.

And who can blame the local Massachusetts authorities with TV channels and websites around the country eager to publish hyped-up comments from a biologist who recently said, “It’s not if, it’s when, in terms of somebody being fatally attacked (on the Cape).” The hype is an annual event. A few summers ago, The Boston Globe felt compelled to write a piece with the headline, “Everyone Needs to Chill Out About Great White Sharks in Mass. Waters.”

Sharks are actually a much more significant problem down south, but you don’t hear much about it.

In 2016, there were 53 unprovoked shark attacks in the US — none fatal — according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.

Thirty-two of the attacks were in Florida; 8 in Alabama, 10 in Hawaii; four in California; three in North Carolina; two in South Carolina; and one each in Texas and Oregon. Worldwide, there were 81 confirmed attacks last year, including four deaths.”

Fisherman catches five to six foot black tip reef shark on central Florida.

Massachusetts and Cape Cod don’t even make the list. Massachusetts’ last attack was in 2012, when a great white shark bit a bodysurfer. Indeed the last fatal shark attack in Massachusetts was in 1937!

If the sharks did start biting around the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, where the east coast elite summer (that’s a verb in this case), you’d probably think the Russians were invading from all the hysterical coverage.

Why are there now so many sharks on the Cape? Marine biologists say the Great Whites come to the Cape because they love to feed on the increasingly large population of gray seals in the area. If one of the animals does bite a human, biologist always say it’s most likely a case of “mistaken identity.”

The whole shark attack “phenomenon” is still extremely rare. The National Aquarium in Baltimore says the odds of being killed by a shark are one in 3.7 million. Or about the same as the odds of finding a Trump supporter in the shark-obsessed media.