WELLFLEET, Mass. - Summer weather means it is now shark season on the cape, and anyone heading there for the Fourth of July holiday will notice something new on every beach.
Lifeguards are adding purple warning flags and some new emergency phones. Those phones are crucial and can mean the difference between life and death.
"I can point out exactly where the seals are," said Mike Bentz, one of the head lifeguards for the town of Wellfleet, who has been a lifeguard for 27 years.
"I feel really safe because they’re guarding the beach for sharks," said Rebecca Weisenthal, who has been swimming at Newcomb Hollow Beach for 27 years. "They're on the lookout."
Last September a 26-year-old Revere man was killed in a shark attack at Newcomb Hollow Beach. In response, several new safety features have been added this summer – including larger shark warning signs.
New aluminum lifeguard stands are three feet taller than the old wooden stands. They give lifeguards better vantage points to look for sharks.
Yellow call boxes have been installed at all four Wellfleet beaches. Since cell service is notoriously weak at the beaches, when the telephone is picked up it will call 911 automatically.
"Obviously very important to have because you can't get cell service here and we do need police and medic[s] to come in and help people when they’re hurt," said Michael Cataldo, a frequenter of Newcomb Hollow Beach.
Purple shark flags are also flying from all lifeguard stands. They’re to remind people that there are sharks in the water. When a shark is sighted, the purple flag gets replaced.
"If we were to see a shark we would blow a whistle, we’ll clear the water and change that to a black flag to give people even greater indication that we saw something and there’s a greater threat," Bentz said.
Those purple shark flags are flying at all Cape Cod beaches.
But new this year in Wellfleet, lifeguard season will likely be extended on weekends until the end of September, which they've never done before.
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