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What impact are shark sightings having on local businesses on Cape Cod?

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  • Elysia Rodriguez
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WELLFLEET, Mass. - Businesses on Cape Cod overall say it's hard to tell how shark sightings have impacted them. But what is clear is that the fear of sharks has drastically changed how people behave on the beach.

Some 100 yards from Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, a likely white shark as seen from Sky 25. After our pilot spotted the shark around 2:45 Monday afternoon, Boston 25 News alerted the Wellfleet Harbor Master.

Shark expert Dr. Greg Skomal from the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries took a look at our video and says the fish was likely a great white shark.

Later in the afternoon, many were unaware the shark was in the water earlier, but have been very aware of their presence overall.

"I don't go in over my head," said Scott Columb of Minneapolis.

Even 8-year-old Ursula knows why she's not allowed to swim too far.

"Because of sharks," she said.

This is the same beach where 26-year-old Arthur Medici was attacked and killed by a shark in September of last year. After that attack, more safety measures were put in place at the beach and Cape Cod communities have increased awareness campaigns.

"It's something that's on my mind but it's not a concern, it hasn't stopped us from coming or going on the beach or going in the water,” Columb said. "Would I go way out? I probably would think twice about that."

Related: Baby whale scene in the water near Marina Bay in Quincy

In Wellfleet, longtime tourists say fear has not changed their traditions.

"We've been coming here every year for 22 years," said Rachel Reisman of Holliston. "The woman that we rent our cottage from every year said that it's been really busy and it's been really busy around town."

But some have noticed smaller crowds in town.

"It seems a little lighter than what we have been used to before," Columb said. "It seems a little bit, but not much."

The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce does not compile its tourism numbers until the end of the season, and there are other factors this year to consider. Last month a new tax on short-term rentals raised the price of some by up to 14%.

And tornadoes just ripped through some Cape towns causing destruction and power outages.

The manager at The Beachcomber – a popular restaurant and bar in Wellfleet – said they've been packed all summer and says as long as the weather is good business will be as well.

"We weren't going to give up on Wellfleet because of nature, because of sharks," Reisman said.

This year Dr. Greg Skomal has tagged 15 white sharks off of Cape Cod. There have been dozens of sightings of sharks this season, but it's hard to tell how many sharks there actually are because the same shark can be sighted multiple times.

>>>MORE: Blog: Shark activity in and around Massachusetts

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