Great whites are back in Cape Cod -- here's what you need to know

Chatham sharkAtlantic White Shark Conservancy/MA Division of Marine FisheriesAn underwater photo of the 11-foot female great white that was seen attacking a grey seal on Monday, June 20, 2016.

The ocean’s top predators must have known that Shark Week was coming, because great whites have been spotted off the coast of Cape Cod.

These impressive sharks have been seen in the region every year since 2009, reports National Geographic.

The first great white shark of this season was tagged on Friday, June 17 by Dr. Gregory Skomal of the Division of Marine Fisheries. The shark
was an 11-foot female, found feeding on a grey seal off the coast of Chatham. This area that has seen a lot of sharks over the past few summers because its local seal population has grown.

The biggest great whites can grow up to 20 feet long, according to The Smithsonian, but most females are about 15 to 16 feet long, while males average 11 to 13 feet.

On Monday, June 20, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tagged a second great white off Nauset Beach. According to WCVB, Boston’s local news station, this shark was also 11-feet long.

If last year is any indication, the citizens of Cape Cod should expect to see more great whites in their waters this summer. Beaches in the area were closed several times last season because groups of sharks were repeatedly seen approaching the shore.

But, beachgoers shouldn’t worry too much. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, sharks only kill an average of 10 people a year. Humans, on the other hand, kill 20 to 30 million sharks a year. To really put this into perspective, nearly 3,287 people die every single day in car accidents.

To help stave off any lurking fears you may have, though, Discovery Channel and NOAA Fisheries Service offer some helpful tips to avoid being attacked by a shark:

  • Swim in groups. Sharks are more likely to attack people swimming.
  • Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk, when sharks usually feed.
  • Don’t enter the water with any kind of open cut.
  • Take off shiny jewellery before swimming. Jewellery looks like fish scales in the water, and it is more likely to attract sharks.
  • Try not to splash. Sharks may mistake all this splashing for an injured prey (in other words, an easy meal)

While it’s easy to be afraid of sharks if you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller Jaws, swimmers really don’t have too much to worry about. Just pay attention to signs at local beaches and follow NOAA’s guidelines, and you’ll have a great — and safe — summer.

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