Experts are leaning less towards needing a bigger boat, and more towards employing a huge sound system to keep sharks away from Cape Cod beaches.
Following two separate attacks last year, Deep Blue LLC presented the idea for an “invisible fence” to the Barnstable County Commissioners on Wednesday. This “fence” system of underwater audio devices would be mounted on buoys some distance from the shore and emit a sound unpleasant to seals but inaudible to humans. It would be set up near some of the Capes’s most popular swimming spots.
“We’re creating an invisible fence like what use to keep your dog on your property,” Deep Blue LLC owner Willy Planinshek said. “Except in this case, we’re keeping other dogs out of the yard.”
This proposal was met with support from some officials and residents but ire from local animal rights groups.
Local wildlife experts say that seals are less bothered by similar sound systems than one would hope, and swim with their heads above water to avoid the unpleasant acoustic emissions. Animal rights activists said they support non-lethal solutions to the region’s concerns but cautioned that such acoustic deterrent systems have failed elsewhere, and may negatively impact other species of marine life.
“Anything that would give the public more confidence in our beaches is important to us,” Barnstable County Commission Chair Ronald Bergstrom told WHDH.
Sharks hunt seals who are migrating off the coast of the Cape. However, two men were attacked last year, and one was killed by a hungry shark.
Cape Cod officials have already invested in emergency call boxes, specially equipped beach medical kits and additional lifeguard training and other safety measures ahead of the summer beach season.
They’re also paying for an independent study on more costly and controversial steps, such as investing in shark barriers, aerial drones or seal culls, which won’t be ready until the fall.