Summer is nearly over and there is no denying it. Things were different this year. Last October's fatal shark attack of 26 year old boogie-boarder Arthur Medici after two shark attacks on victims who survived, changed everything. We used to tout the statistical improbability of an attack as we splashed in the surf, and now we announce there's no way we'd swim in the depths we used to.
Officials have been forced to take action. When poor cell phone coverage delayed the emergency response to the shark attack, landline phones were installed on the east-facing beaches. Royal purple flags featuring white sharks flap in the breeze at the beaches where lifeguards now have special training to stop bleeding.
One of the more visible signs of the change is in the sky. Those planes that used to trail ribbon banners advertising beer and nightspots? Now it's spotter planes which relentlessly scan the shoreline looking for sharks who get too close.
Personally, I'm happy to adjust my expectations of what the beach can provide for me, and to join in the excitement of the restoration of the ocean ecosystem. Grey seals, the great white shark delicacy, are back in huge numbers after federal protection. While some advocates call for killing the seals, most Cape Codders accept that nature will control the population-- with the sharks.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy leads the effort to fund research and educate the public. Their "Sharktivity" app is enormously popular, with alerts pinged to cell phones when a shark is spotted and a beach is closed for an hour. My phone has been blowing up this month-- peak activity for sharks on the Cape.
The New York Times featured a story this week on sharks on the Cape and included a video, below, of local shark expert Greg Skomal and his team of researchers searching for sharks off Chatham. It's hard not feel their enthusiasm.
Remember, no shark ever walked onto a beach to attack someone. We are safe here. The land is for us, the water is for them. In between is that fuzzy area where we long for a dip in the refreshing waters of Cape Cod, and coming home again to tell about it.