Cape Cod National Seashore Great White Shark Safety

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Date: June 25, 2018
Contact: Leslie Reynolds, Chief Ranger, 508-957-0735

WELLFLEET, Mass. – Summer has arrived on the Outer Cape! Visitors are coming to Cape Cod National Seashore to enjoy its abundant recreational opportunities, and for rest and rejuvenation. For local residents, summer often means company, cookouts, and playing “tourist” with family and friends.

Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom reminds visitors and residents that we share the national seashore with native wildlife. Recently, Cape Cod's great white sharks and gray seals have gained local and national attention. Both species existed long before Cape Cod was settled or became a popular destination, and in recent years their numbers have increased. Sharks have existed for more than 400 million years.  As top predators, sharks are critical for maintaining a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem.  

Seals are the major prey species for the great white shark, and as the seal population increases, the great white sharks have become more numerous. In recent years there have been confirmed reports of great white sharks feeding on seals close to shore, as well as great white shark sightings from spotter planes flying along the Outer Cape and near swimming beaches. While it is rare for a great white shark to bite a human, it did occur in Truro in 2012. 

To stay safe and to protect wildlife:

  • Do not swim near seals.
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
  • Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
  • Do not swim alone in the ocean at dawn or dusk. Avoid isolation.
  • Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry.
  • Follow instructions of lifeguards.  Become familiar with the beach flag warning system. Take time to read signage at the beaches.
  • Avoid murky or low-visibility water, which makes it difficult to see sharks and for sharks to see you.  

The national seashore, the towns of Cape Cod and the Islands, the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have worked together to produce shark advisory signs for beaches, and brochures that provide education and safety tips for beach users.  A shark safety video may be found on YouTube. Brochures about shark information may be obtained at all National Park Service beaches

Last updated: June 25, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667


(508) 255-3421

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