The ocean’s top predators must have known that Shark Week was coming, because great whites have been spotted off the coast of Cape Cod.
These impressive sharks have been seen in the region every year since 2009, National Geographic reports.
The first great white shark of this season was tagged on June 17 by Dr. Gregory Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The shark was an 11-foot female found feeding on a grey seal off the coast of Chatham, Massachusetts.
This area has seen a lot of sharks over the past few summers because its seal population has grown.
The biggest great whites can grow up to 20 feet long, according to the Smithsonian Institution, but most females are about 15 to 16 feet long, while males average 11 to 13 feet.
If last year is any indication, the citizens of Cape Cod should expect to see more great whites in their waters this summer. Beaches in the area were closed several times last season because groups of sharks were repeatedly seen approaching the shore.
But beachgoers shouldn’t worry too much. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, sharks killed six people in 2015. Humans, on the other hand, kill 20 to 30 million sharks a year. To really put this into perspective, nearly 3,300 people die every day in car accidents.
- Swim in groups. Sharks are more likely to attack people swimming alone. Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk, when sharks usually feed. Don’t enter the water with any kind of open cut. Take off shiny jewelry before swimming. Jewelry looks like fish scales in the water, and it is more likely to attract sharks. Try not to splash. Sharks may mistake all this splashing for an injured prey (in other words, an easy meal).
While it’s easy to be afraid of sharks if you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller “Jaws,” swimmers really don’t have too much to worry about. Just pay attention to signs at local beaches and follow NOAA’s guidelines, and you’ll have a great – and safe – summer.