It’s Jaws all over again

The fatal shark attack on 26-year-old boogie border Arthur Medici Saturday at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet scared the hell out of me. Reading about the terrible incident, I could hear the John Williams theme to Jaws in my head.

“Don’t go in the water.”

The 1975 Steven Spielberg movie, based on the book by Peter Benchley, scared the hell out of America. Beach attendance plummeted that summer and the movie transformed great white sharks from fairly obscure creatures into deadly predators capable of tracking individual human beings. It was all hogwash, of course, but people were so scared that shark-fishing tournaments became all the rage. Just as in the movie, the answer to shark attacks was to kill the sharks, and that may be urge this time around.

In an editorial, the Boston Herald demanded a response to the attack on Medici. “Whatever measures are necessary to keep the beaches safe must be taken despite the squeamishness those actions might provoke in some,” the Herald said. “Whether the solution is to cull the seal population, the shark population, or both, we must not hesitate to do it. Perhaps there’s a third way, but action must be taken swiftly to assure Cape residents and tourists that they will not be preyed upon if they enter the waters off Cape Cod.”

Let’s think this through. Great white sharks are big and scary but they do not hunt humans. (Last year there were 88 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, including five fatalities. The last shark fatality in Massachusetts was in 1936.) However, sharks sometimes attack humans because they mistake them for seals. “Pretty much every shark bite is an accident. It’s mistaken identity,” Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told the New York Times.

Still, there’s no denying that a rising population of seals and great white sharks off the coast of Massachusetts is creating a potentially dangerous situation. We should have seen this coming. Greg Skomal, a senior biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, was monitoring a great white shark from a boat in early August when it leaped out of the water toward him. Later that month, Dr. William Lytton was bitten by a shark while swimming just offshore in Truro. And then the attack on Medici over the weekend.

Officials are now trying to decide what to do, and lots of options are on the table. So many incidents in such a short period of time suggest caution is definitely warranted. Whether it’s time to call in the cavalry is another matter. This ain’t Hollywood, after all.

BRUCE MOHL


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Pressure in gas lines that led to multiple home explosions in the Merrimack Valley was 12 times the normal rate, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey say. (Boston Globe)

A Lowell Sun editorial calls for a harsh crackdown by the Lowell School Department on “student thugs” who engaged in a brawl Friday and taunted and spat at police who tried to break it up. “Never has there been such a terrible scene in Lowell,” the editorial said.

Thousands turned out in Worcester to see Red Sox legends Pedro Martinez, Dwight Evans, and others celebrate the municipality’s success in landing the Worcester Red Sox. “Pessimism and doubt have retreated from our vernacular in favor of optimism and pride,” said City Manager Ed Augustus. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Quincy City Council is eyeing a citywide parking permit plan to restrict overnight parking to residents and relieve some neighborhoods near MBTA stations of cars clogging their streets. (Patriot Ledger)

The Peabody City Council voted 6-4 to deny a permit to an Adam & Eve sex shop even though the store met all the requirements of the city’s adult zone. (Salem News)

Brockton City Councilor Win Farwell, a former mayor, said the city should end the “charade” of the council approving police promotions because the mayor is not required to seek approval and having officers come for a “ceremonial” vote creates unnecessary overtime. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault during a party when they were in high school, will testify under oath before a Senate committee hearing Monday, delaying the planned committee vote this week. (New York Times) Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Kavanaugh denied the accusations and told him he had never been at that party or the house, even though Ford never specified when and where the party was. (Washington Post) Joan Vennochi says Kavanaugh’s reputation for truth-trimming precedes him. (Boston Globe) Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins says the initial reaction to the allegations from several from top (male) officials goes a long way toward explaining why sexual assault victims often stay silent.

President Trump announced a new tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods effective next week, with the 10 percent levy rising to 25 percent in December. (Wall Street Journal)

ELECTIONS

Lori Trahan wins a recount vote over Dan Koh by 145 votes in the Third Congressional District Democratic primary. (State House News)

There is a debate about debates in the 9th Congressional District race as incumbent US Rep. William Keating has drawn the line at two debates and GOP challenger Peter Tedeschi is pushing for five. (Cape Cod Times)

Shiva Ayyadurai files suit against UMass for excluding him from a debate between US Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her Republican challenger, Geoff Diehl. Ayyadurai is running as an independent. (Lowell Sun)

Local veterans of Deval Patrick’s past campaigns launch the Reason to Believe PAC, which has no formal connection to the former governor but seems poised to help lay the groundwork for a potential Patrick run for president. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A district court magistrate overruled town officials and said a Yarmouth Port store owner can keep an A-framed sign in front of his establishment because it has been there for more than 80 years, long before the town passed its sign ordinances. (Cape Cod Times)

ARTS

Take a look at the five finalists for the Martin Luther King memorial on Boston Common. (WBUR)

Harvard’s Hasty Pudding allows women on its stage for the first time in 170 years. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

A change in policy ensuring no student is denied a lunch in Framingham schools even if they can’t pay has increased the food service deficit, which could grow to more than $127,000 by the end of the year if parents don’t pay off their balances, officials told the School Committee. (MetroWest Daily News)

Americans want college campuses to be racially diverse, but a majority oppose using race as an admissions criterion, according to a new poll. (Boston Globe)

A black Smith College student who made headlines over the summer when she posted an account of an encounter with a campus police officer who approached her after a call reported someone who seemed “to be out of place” sitting in a common room is back on campus for her sophomore year, but says has been overwhelmed by the attention the incident has received. (Boston Globe) In an echo of the case, a longtime black employee at nearby UMass Amherst had a similar encounter there on Friday with campus police. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Toll evaders are running out of real estate, as Massachusetts adds toll reciprocity agreements with Rhode Island and (soon) New York to existing pacts with New Hampshire and Maine. (CommonWealth)

T officials promise Chelsea service improvements, but won’t even consider fare reductions during construction work that is expected to lead to long delays on the Route 111 bus for the next five years. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Tight timeline for regional transit authority panel…Numbers on Blue-Red connector don’t add up…Final tab for Longfellow Bridge is $305.5m….Advocate says parcel key to connectivity at Allston Landing bought by developer.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

With remnants of Hurricane Florence drenching the Carolinas and heading this way, Keller@Large puts a spotlight on the lack of flood insurance in some vulnerable coastal areas that could prove a disaster for the 80 to 90 percent of homeowners who don’t have it.

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

A 1 million square foot cannabis campus that will be home to a variety of pot business is moving ahead in Freetown. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A clerk magistrate has determined there is no probable cause for an assault and battery charge against a Plymouth police captain but the officer who made the allegation said he would appeal the decision. (Wicked Local)

MEDIA

The Washington Post lures political correspondent Matt Viser away from the Boston Globe. (Washington Post)

Who’s left to cover Brooklyn with the big newspapers pulling out? (The Atlantic)

How do you give the Emmys a lift? Have one of the award winners propose to his girlfriend during his acceptance speech. (Vox)

PASSINGS

Freddie Oversteegen, who as a teenage girl in the Dutch resistance flirted with and lured occupying Nazi soldiers to go on strolls in the woods where she would produce a handgun and kill them, has died at age 92. “It was a necessary evil,” she said of the killings. (Washington Post)

Alan Abel, a professional hoaxer who once started a campaign to clothe nude animals and later tricked the New York Times into running his obituary, has died at the age of 94. The Times confirmed his death with multiple sources.