After shark attacks, Cape residents push for better beach safety regulations

After shark attacks, Cape residents push for better beach safety regulations

WELLFLEET, Mass. — Hundreds gathered in Welfleet on Thursday night to demand better safety regulations and protocols at Cape Cod beaches.

The event, hosted by Welfleet officials, included the head of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and a seal researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as speakers.

The community rallied together as many expressed their discontent with the increasing seal and shark populations at local beached and what many described as lack of appropriate government response to protect beach goers.

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A stream of suggestions flooded the gym at Welfleet Elementary School where community members proposed changes that could protect people on Cape beaches, including ATVs charged and ready to help transport the injured across beaches and up dunes, equipped lifeguards with radios connecting them directly to law enforcement, more lifeguards on duty and better cell phone service at beaches.

Residents also proposed an arm band which would send off an ultrasonic pulse to irritate sharks and ward them off to be given out to swimmers.

Many lashed out about the seal population, frustrated that officials have "let this happen," but town officials reminded residents there is little they can do to change the legislation that protects seals in the foreseeable future.

“The seal population out of control, they are eating our fish now they're eating our children," said Gail Sluis, who witnessed the aftermath of the fatal shark attack that killed Arthur Medici. “We cut down the population get them an island, I don’t know what we can do, it cannot continue like this."

The forum comes after 26-year-old Arthur Medici, of Revere, was bitten by a shark while boogie boarding off a Wellfleet beach Sept. 15. He was the state's first fatality from a shark attack in more than 80 years.

A 61-year old New York man was bitten off a beach in nearby Truro in August and is recovering in a Boston hospital.

The Seashore Advisory Commission has already said in recent weeks that it’s planning to install boxes at the ocean beaches where poor cell phone service caused delays in 911 calls in both the August attack of William Lytton in Truro and the September fatal attack of Arthur Medici in Wellfleet.