Chatham, Massachusetts: A Town Changed by Sharks

Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 12:00AM

In honor of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which kicks off August 10th, we’re taking a look at one town whose reputation has been changed by an increase in great white shark sightings—for the better!

Chatham, Massachusetts, home to the famous Cape Cod, has seen an increase in tourism revenue as a result of rising great white sightings in the area over the past few years. One local business owner told that sales of shark apparel have grown around 500 percent, and local theaters have been showing Jaws every day—but unlike in the 1975 horror movie, locals and visitors are excited to know that the sharks are nearby.

Where did they come from?

Chatham and Massachusetts in general aren’t seeing a spike in great white attacks—in fact, according to the International Shark Attack File, there’s only been one confirmed shark-attack fatality in the state since 1837. Sightings, however, have increased as the gray seal population (the sharks’ main food source) has returned in large numbers to the area.

And to imagine the precedent of public panic that Jaws set all those years ago! The movie was actually shot not so far away, at the nearby island of Martha’s Vineyard. While the circumstances are a bit different (there haven’t been any fatalities due to the sharks, just sightings and an increase in local shark-themed apparel), beachgoers are still advised to steer clear of seals. No matter how cute, they are shark bait, and may draw sharks closer.

Boating in and around Chatham

Other than staying away from seals, local authorities say the beaches should be safe for swimmers and boaters. Boating of all sorts—even kayaking—hasn’t let up around Cape Cod, which offers beautiful views from dunes and beaches to lighthouses and greenery.

For those who crave an experience removed from the renewed tourist center of the Cape, there’s also Wequaquet Lake, a quiet spot a bit further inland. There you’ll find a quaint daytime getaway popular among yachters, home to pebbly shores and surrounded by shade.

If you do venture up Northeast this summer, be sure to check out these prime boating spots—and bring home a great white souvenir while you’re at it! Make sure to visit our closest dealer too, Tern Harbor Marina.

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