Great White Shark Spotted in Chatham Over the Weekend

Researchers say a 15-foot shark was prowling for seals just off the shoreline.

Photo viaCape Cod Shark Hunters

Photo viaCape Cod Shark Hunters

Both on and offshore, shark sightings have brought curious tourists to Chatham this summer.

On Sunday, researchers flying above a beach in the Cape Cod town spotted a 15-foot Great White shark prowling for seals just off the coastline.

From the air, George Breen, member of the Sandwich-based Cape Cod Shark Hunters, followed the shark’s movements for more than one mile along the beach as it stalked its prey. Following the sighting, researchers from the group said they hoped to get out on the ocean to do some tagging during the coming week to follow up on the Great White’s activity.

The sighting occurred in the late afternoon on an unpopulated section of beach, officials said. Breen said as the summer progresses sightings usually pick up, especially in the month of August, but this was his first sighting this season.

While the presence of the Great Whites in the area have certainly had some business owners worried about how it could impact tourism, members of the community say vacationers are still flocking to the area, and have a keen interest in the sharks.

Janice Rogers, who has been running an art campaign featuring Great White sharks on the mainland, called “Sharks in the Park,” said the area has been a hotspot this summer and that the latest news will surely bring more attention to Chatham.

She said last year when meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce, officials were hesitant to support an initiative and art program that emphasized shark sightings in Chatham out of fear that it would keep people at bay. There was an influx in shark sightings in Cape Cod last summer that shut down some beaches during the busy season.

But the artwork—which includes hundreds of hand-painted sharks posted on a lawn in the Cape Cod town—has done nothing but bring in business. “A year ago the Chamber was like ‘don’t even say the word [shark]. This year they said, ‘I guess we should go with it.’ It makes people more aware of being careful when going to the beach,” said Rogers.

The Sharks in the Park program is a promotional tool that is sponsored by the Chatham Merchants Association as a way to combine public art with the business community to create an experience that is unique to the town, according to the organization running it. Close to 50 shops in the town embraced bringing shark figures into their shops to pander to the curiosity factor, welcoming the sharks to the shorelines, rather than steering away.

“In general, I would say the artwork has attracted a lot of people. Until now, if there wasn’t a shark sighting in the area, it certainly made up for it,” said Rogers, glancing out her office window, where dozens of people gathered to check out the hand-painted art. “It’s been insanely popular. At any given time there are people still looking at the sharks. It’s weird. People just love them.”

To view some of the artwork, which includes a Chatham welcome sign that appears to have been bitten by a shark, visit the group’s Facebook page.