Recently, Cape Cod's white sharks and grey seals have gained local and national attention. Both species existed long before Cape Cod was settled or became a popular destination, and in recent years their numbers have increased. Sharks have existed for more than 400 million years. As top predators, sharks are critical for maintaining a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem.
The inshore waters off many Cape Cod and South Shore beaches are preferred feeding grounds for white sharks. They come to these areas to feed on seals. While white shark encounters with humans are rare, they can happen.
To improve safety and to protect wildlife:
- Do not swim near seals
- Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
- Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups
- Do not swim alone in the ocean at dawn or dusk
- Avoid isolation
- Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry
- Keep your distance (at least 150 feet) from seals, whether they are resting on land or are in the water. It is against the law to disturb them
- Adhere to all signage at beaches where seals are resting
- Keep pets leashed. Inquisitive dogs can startle resting seals, resulting in seal bites or scratches to you or your pet
- Follow instructions of lifeguards
- Become familiar with the beach flag warning system
- Take time to read signage at the beaches
The Cape Cod National Seashore, the towns of Cape Cod and the Islands, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have worked together to produce shark advisory signs for beaches, flags, and brochures that provide education and safety tips for beach users. Brochures about shark information may be obtained at all National Park Service beaches and can be downloaded in pdf here.