Spencer Rendahl: Shark Week

Aug 31, 2017

Just as my family departed for our annual camping vacation on Cape Cod, we learned that wreckage of the World War Two era US Warship Indianapolis had finally been found.

The Indianapolis had famously delivered the bomb used in Hiroshima being sunk by two Japanese submarine torpedoes in the Pacific Ocean - and lost. Only three hundred and sixteen of one thousand one hundred and ninety six Indianapolis sailors survived to be rescued five days later.

It became more famous in the nineteen seventy five movie Jaws when Captain Quint, a fictional Indianapolis survivor, told the tale of sailors bobbing in the water while trying to fight off hungry sharks.

The news of the Indianapolis helped create the theme of our vacation, which we now call "Shark Week."

On Monday, our first day at Nauset Beach, a shark attacked a seal swimming just off shore, with two teenagers surfing for the first time nearby. Lifeguards closed the beach to swimming the rest of the afternoon because blood from the attack lingered. On Wednesday while we were whale watching, a shark bit a paddleboard with paddleboarder on it off nearby Marconi Beach. And on Thursday, Race Point Beach in Provincetown was closed to swimming due to shark sightings - and they’re on the rise.

Researchers reportedly identified eighty sharks off Cape Cod in twenty fourteen, one hundred forty one the following year, and one hundred forty six in twenty sixteen. Numbers aren't yet in for this year.

In response to recent incidents, a Cape Cod official suggested culling the local shark population, but backed off after his proposal was met with widespread outrage. And in fact, there were no fatal shark attacks on humans reported in the U.S. in 2016, or so far in 2017.

We live in a rural area so we’re always aware that human and animal habitats can intersect. Bears and even bobcats sometimes show up nearby, but attacks are rare.

We did take precautions, staying near the shore and away from seals frolicking in the shallow water - because seals are shark prey, and the water is shark habitat.

My husband also kept close track of verified sightings on a “Sharktivity” app on his smartphone.

We enjoyed sharing the water and hope to do so for years to come - with a healthy respect for those who live in it full time.