Barnstable County

Is shark activity becoming a Cape tourism attraction?

HYANNIS, Mass. — It has been a busy week for shark activity on the Cape during “Shark Week.”  The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app was getting lots of alerts from tagged sharks off the outer Cape. The peak of great white shark season is just getting underway along the Cape.

Coastal Cape Cod has been driving tourism for decades but in recent years – what’s in the water is becoming a big attraction.  Shark merchandize at Livin EZ in downtown Hyannis lines the wall. One store employee admits he has never seen “Jaws” shows us the shirts they are selling. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat. I’m pretty sure that is like the line from the movie,” said the store employee.  The employee says they have been selling lots of shark stuff. “This one is 25 dollars,” said the employee.

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Office Paul Niedzwiecki says businesses really have leaned into the shark world. “There is a lot of merchandise, sharks have become a part of the commercial business culture on the Cape. And this summer we have seen unprecedented crowds. There are more people on the Cape this summer than there have ever been in history,” said Niedzwiecki.  The Chamber says people have been biting. “They got a fascination and curiosity and on the Cape that really has been channeled into learning about these incredible animals,” said Niedzwiecki.

We talked to people vacationing on the Cape about why they believe sharks are so fascinating in recent years.  “They are cool and also scary as all heck,” said one woman. Samantha Merwin and her son, Saige, are visiting from Connecticut.  “It seems like it fits with the Cape, right, because seaside. Sharks, whales. Something you would expect to see here,” said Merwin.  “It’s mostly just fear. Fear of the sharks. And that is what drives a lot of it. I mean, you don’t see people freaking out if a Cod shows up,” said her son.

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