What to do about Cape Cod’s sharks?
It would be an environmental success story were it not for all the swimmers and surfers.
The rejuvenated population of great white sharks patrolling the waters off Cape Cod has raised the alarm, and for good reason. The sharks pose a potentially fatal threat to people in the water, and that offshore menace creates risks for the tourism market that sustains the local economy.
The sharks have returned to the area because the gray seals that they feast upon have bounced back, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which credits state and federal protections of the seals dating back to the 1960s for that dynamic.
But even though the heightened number of prey may be to blame, culling the seals isn’t the easy solution it might appear to be.
Another complication for those who think killing the seals would solve the problem is that the seals currently basking on the sand on Cape Cod are just one part of a much larger population of roughly 300,000 who travel between the United States and Canada, according to Sharon Young, the marine issues field director for the Humane Society of the United States.
“So the 10,000 that are on a specific beach today are not the same 10,000 that might be there tomorrow,” Young told the Associated Press.
And yet a Nantucket-based group called the Seal Action Committee is mounting an effort to repeal some of the federal seal protections. Barnstable County Commission Chairman Ronald Bergstrom said Congressman Bill Keating, who represents Cape Cod, isn’t a big supporter of that approach. That would make it a tough sell in Congress.
For all the problems – practical and political – facing the kill-the-seals approach, at least it is a proactive response to the problem. Cape Cod officials have addressed the growing threat, but with mostly reactive measures such as installing trauma kits and 911 call boxes at the beach, and enhancing the training and hours of lifeguards. Those could help save a life after someone is attacked, but they would have limited utility to prevent bites from happening in the first place.
Last September, 26-year-old Arthur Medici, of Revere, was killed by a shark off Wellfleet, the first such death since 1936.
On Wednesday, the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners heard pitches for more measures, including an offer by Acoustic Technology Inc. to install a speaker system to apprise beachgoers of any shark sightings at no cost for three months.
Heather Doyle, of Wellfleet, wants to use the unproven technology of sonar buoys to detect sharks before they have a chance to attack, and she told the AP a few months ago that even though those might not be completely effective, it’s better than doing nothing.
Last Saturday, three Cape beaches were closed because of shark sightings and on Tuesday, the Head of the Meadow Beach was closed once again because a shark was spotted. Citing the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app, NBC Boston reported that there have already been more than 100 great white sightings off Cape Cod this summer.
This weekend should be a scorcher in Boston, and beautiful weather on Cape Cod, according to current forecasts. That means it’s likely to be a popular weekend for Cape beaches, and another one without the needed fix for the problem of sharks just a little way offshore.
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The Massachusetts National Guard affirms that it will continue to accept transgender people to its ranks. (MassLive)
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New Bedford’s conservation commission voted to approve Altitude H2O’s floating water park at a meeting Tuesday night, amidst some controversy and confusion. (Standard Times)
President Trump continued his attacks on four freshman minority congresswomen at a rally in North Carolina as he revives a slogan made popular by Richard Nixon: America — love it or leave it. (Boston Globe)
Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York sue the IRS over regulations that would bar a workaround employed by the states to circumvent a limit on tax deductions imposed by the 2017 tax law overhaul. (Governing)
After Congresswoman Lori Trahan posted a guide for unauthorized immigrants to know their legal rights ahead of trumpeted immigration raids last weekend – including their right not to allow federal agents without a warrant into a home – Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons said it “looks like they’re trying to interfere with law enforcement.” (Eagle-Tribune)
Rep. Andy Vargas of Haverhill says it’s time to bring ranked-choice voting to Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)
Hampshire College names Edward Wingenbach, the acting president of Ripon College in Wisconsin, as its eighth president.
State Education Secretary James Peyser and UMass President Marty Meehan say unifying payment and procurement systems for the entire system will save millions of dollars annually. (CommonWealth)
Bentley Academy Charter School in Salem will convert from a charter school to an in-district innovation school, and some questions remain about why the move was undertaken. (Salem News)
Somerville Hospital is closing its emergency department, a move the hospital says is unrelated to the tragic death of patient who collapsed only steps from the emergency room entrance in 2016 but was not found there quickly. (Boston Globe)
The state adopts new rules requiring more documentation of surgeons’ comings and goings from operating rooms in the wake of concerns raised about doctors being involved concurrently in multiple surgeries. (Boston Globe)
A prominent local black artist announced he was abandoning plans for a memorial to the slave auctions once held outside Faneuil Hall in the face of opposition from the Boston NAACP. (Boston Globe)
Draper is looking back 50 years to the first days of lunar exploration in an exhibit titled “Hack the Moon,” and looking ahead to a planned return visit to earth’s nearest neighbor, which NASA hopes to accomplish by 2024. (WBUR)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh described the T as “not currently a functional service” for much of the city. (State House News) Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu continued her critique of the T, saying the buck stops with Gov. Charlie Baker and warning that the system is heading for “total shutdown” after a power outage disrupted service yesterday on the Blue Line. (Boston Herald)
More than half of T riders were dissatisfied with the service in June, the highest level ever, according to a monthly survey conducted by the transit authority. A Red Line train derailed in June, causing damage that won’t be fully repaired until the end of the summer. (CommonWealth)
Vineyard Wind says its offshore wind project is at risk if federal regulators fail to approve an environmental impact statement in the next four to six weeks. (CommonWealth)
Curaleaf Holdings Inc. of Wakefield acquires Chicago-based Grassroots, solidifying its position as the nation’s largest marijuana company. (Telegram & Gazette)
Claude W. Brown-Madison has been indicted by a Plymouth grand jury for allegedly pointing a gun at a state trooper during a Brockton incident with murky circumstances. (Herald News)
Prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against Kevin Spacey after the young man who accused the actor of groping him in a Nantucket bar refused to testify about deleted messages from his cellphone on the night of the alleged assault. (Boston Globe)
Retired magician David Hussey, who is charged with inappropriately touching two of his former students, was released on bail today following his arraignment in Brockton Superior Court. (Brockton Enterprise)PASSINGS
Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who became the first black player for Red Sox when it became the last Major League team to integrate its roster in 1959, died at age 85.