Massachusetts Geniuses Figure Out Why There Are So Many Shark Sightings

Posted by on Aug 01, 2012 at 7:51 am

It’s the federal government, stupid.

The booming, federally protected seal population basking in Bay State waters will only bring more hungry, dead-eyed great white sharks closer to shore — where they can strike in as little as 6 feet of water, experts warn.

State wildlife officials said yesterday they’re tracking nine great whites — the most they’ve ever had tagged — but it’s not clear whether that lethal group includes the stealthy predator that attacked a bodysurfer off Ballston Beach in Truro on Monday afternoon, splattering blood on the beach.

The victim, Christopher Myers, is recovering from leg injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital in what officials called the first attack by a great white in Massachusetts since a fatal strike in 1936.

Swarming the Cape coast in pockets from Eastham to Chatham, seals — a protected species for the past four decades — are being blamed for the sudden spike in shark sightings.

“Nature is out of balance,” said Michael Snell, a former Truro beach commissioner. “Until we start harvesting seals, we are going to keep having these kind of problems.”

Uh oh, did he say it’s time to harvest the seals? But, but, but, what about the children? Sure, we can save the kids from being shark snacks, but how do we explain harvesting seals to them? Ah, screw it, let’s just leave things alone and let the sharks do as they please. Besides, it’s their water.

“Society has some tough decisions to make,” he said. “Most people believe the seals are attracting the sharks, and the only thing they can do is control the seal population. But to do that would require a revision of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and that’s a big deal.”

Maybe Joe “Big Effing Deal” Biden can help pull some strings.

The 1972 federal law forbids killing marine mammals, with rare and limited exceptions. The result, experts said, has laid out a blubbery feast of seals all the way up to Canada’s Maritime Provinces.

Prior to the law, towns offered bounties on seals, controlling their numbers as a means of conservation similar to deer hunting, Rothschild said. But 40 years of strictly enforced federal protection have left the waters thick with shark bait, and locals have taken notice.

Sure took them long enough.

20 Responses to “Massachusetts Geniuses Figure Out Why There Are So Many Shark Sightings”

  1. jd on 1/01/12 at 9:34 am

    i will bet 50 internet dollars someone will insist on “global warming” as the motivating force behind the attacks.

    double or nothing if the word “Gaia” is used.

  2. Geoff on 1/01/12 at 11:22 am

    Howdy JD, I’ve already seen “AGW” listed as the cause. Supposedly the water off Cape Cod is warmer and more attractive to big sharks. Funny thing is, big sharks have been observed in cold waters off N. California and South Africa for as long as people have been recording their observations. GW Sharks are not especially tropical.
    Even with a lot of seals in the water, sharks do not mindlessly pursue and eat humans. They take available prey, including humans, but they are less of a risk at the beach than misjudging your distance, currents that exhaust swimmers, and swimming while drunk.
    There’s no reason to wipe out the seals, although harvesting may be wise, nor any reason to wipe out the sharks. Many photos exist of crowded beaches and sharks only a few hundred feet away, but the sharks will generally ignore the humans. Certainly people should move out of the water when a shark over about five feet is known to be around.

  3. Geoff on 1/01/12 at 6:35 pm

    BTW, the shark attack described above may match a tactic that great whites use in California against very large seals. The shark makes a hit on the target and then backs off, waiting for shock to set in and make a subsequent attack much easier. Shark attacks on humans often follow this pattern, or at least a shark makes a bite and backs off. This may not be ending the attack but only waiting for an opportunity to continue.

  4. crosspatch on 1/01/12 at 6:39 pm

    Left the beaches full of seal poop, too. You can’t use them. There was a time when people could fish from those beaches and jettys that are now covered with seal crap.

    Any idea what the bacteria counts are around there?

    I heard one report of over 5,000 seals on beaches around Mass. with seal crap everywhere.

  5. Jay Guevara on 1/01/12 at 6:48 pm

    “Uh oh, did he say it’s time to harvest the seals? But, but, but, what about the children?”

    OK, good point, we’ll harvest them too.

  6. NotClauswitz on 1/01/12 at 7:16 pm

    Same thing is happening on the West Coast too, only we have the Farallon Islands out there, home to the Great Whites who like to hunt and chomp-down the really big Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo – and the sharks also kill a lot of the migrating Gray whales, Blue whales, and Humpback whales that pass near-by…
    Meanwhile the huge amount of seal fecal matter in the water has steadily increased since the mid 70’s and made swimming at Santa Cruz rather unpleasant.

  7. aharris on 1/01/12 at 7:23 pm

    Is it the sharks that kill your whales or the killer whales? A protected marine eco-system would likely have more of both, and I’ve heard that killer whales are more likely to attack the large whales with any degree of success. Heck, there are pods of killer whales that specialize in hunting large sharks.

    As to the sharkes in MA, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Great Whites are a species that are partially warm-blooded and need high energy fuel like … seal blubber. Places in colder water with high seal populations will tend to have Great Whites. If MA has been allowing their tasty, tasty seals to thrive, then the Great Whites will come to exploit them. They’re great migrators.

  8. Charles Baylor on 1/01/12 at 7:46 pm

    Let’s see …

    1. Government protects seals: seal population increases.

    2. More seals: more food source for sharks

    3. More food for sharks: shark population increases.

    4. More sharks: more seals get eaten.

    5. Seal population diminishes: food source for sharks diminishes.

    6. Sharks see Aunt Martha and little Timmy splasing in the surf.

    I think you can take it from there.

  9. Firehand on 1/01/12 at 7:48 pm

    Standard Great White technique: take a massive bite and shake, then back off for the prey to bleed out.

    And Nature isn’t ‘out of balance’ any more than usual; used to be enormous numbers of seals, and God knows how many whites were around at the time. Things go up & down. So the question will become “Fewer seals, or more hazard to humans who go in the water?”

  10. Rich K on 1/01/12 at 8:27 pm

    Hey John Kerry, I got your para sail all ready to go, just hop in the water over there OK,,,,BWAHAHAHAHA.

  11. Jim on 1/01/12 at 8:40 pm

    It’s the animal kingom’s equalivent of “Supply and Demand”. Think about it.

  12. SDN on 1/01/12 at 9:09 pm

    Of course, the solution the eco-weenies will go for is to close the beaches to humans swimming.

  13. SineWaveII on 4/04/12 at 11:25 am

    Walter Sobchak:
    “It looks like a win win situation for me. The sharks get to eat and they terrorize a bunch of Massachusetts liberals. What’s not to like.”


  14. halodoc on 7/07/12 at 12:16 pm

    “Nature is out of balance.” Thank you, Captain Obvious. That tends to happen when dumbass bleeding heart humans attempt to assign human emotions onto Nature and think they know better than it does. Nature is a messy, unforgiving, non-discriminating killer business. Chaos will always seek balance, Nature will always find a way, and Nature will always win.