After recent studies showed numbers of great white sharks are on the rise, Cape Cod beach towns are using the information to avoid a summer scene out of “Jaws.”
Researchers spotted nearly twice the number of great whites last summer as they did in 2014, butGreg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told the Associated Pressits seals—not humans—the predators are after. Still, it’s good to know the animals’ habits, he said.
“How long does it stay and where does it go are the questions we’re trying to answer,” Skomal said to AP. “But for the towns, it’s a public safety issue.”
Once hunted nearly to extinction, the seal population in New England has rebounded and is likely the cause of the influx of sharks. Last summer scientists saw 147 sharks, up from 80 two years prior.
Despite the fame brought to Massachusetts and great whites in the 1975 thriller “Jaws,” where a menacing great white terrorized a fictional town resembling Cape Cod, no one has died from a shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936. There have been at least two attacks in the past five years, though.
In 2012, a man received 47 stitches after beingbitten while swimming off of Cape Cod. In 2014, two young women kayaking off Plymouth were attacked, but neither was bitten, according to the AP.
Sightings are also on the rise, with dozens of alarms ringing each summer for the past few years.