People never cease to amaze me.
When I first arrived on Cape Cod, I went for a walk on the beach despite a brewing storm. There I watched a man bring his young family out to the end of a stone jetty, dragging beach chairs. They wanted the best view of the storm surge as it rolled in on the high tide, ahead of Hurricane Floyd. They appeared to have no awareness of the risks they were taking. Floyd fizzled here; I believe they survived, but I can’t be sure. God looks after idiots and drunks.
Recently the presence of great white sharks off Cape Cod has grown in the public’s awareness. The sharks are drawn here, perhaps by warmer summer ocean temperatures, and certainly by the smorgasbord of seals laid out on the beaches and sandbars from Monomoy to Race Point.
Tourists are drawn to these very beaches, in the hopes of sighting a shark. While they wait for a dorsal fin to appear (with the brain-worm shark theme from Jaws doubtless harmonizing with the sounds of the surf in their benumbed brains), they swim, surf and splash in the very waters where giant, unseen predators prowl for their pinneped prey.
Shark attacks of humans on Cape Cod have been rare. Between 1965 and 2014, only four such attacks were reported, none of them fatal. The last fatal shark attack on the Cape occurred in 1936.
Entertainments like the Jaws and Sharknado franchises trivialize a real peril, and titillate with a faux fear that is fun to feel. On Cape Cod, the thrill is so much more fun for being real. Tourism at the Cape Cod National Seashore spikes during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
This year, there have been two horrific shark attacks here. A New York man was maimed in Truro, but survived. A Revere man died of shark-inflicted injuries in Wellfleet.
For those tourists who insist on unrestricted ocean swimming here still, I have designed the tee shirt graphic above. I mean no disrespect for those who have already suffered grievous harm. I do mean disrespect the the hoards of those who willfully ignore their sacrifice, and especially to those in the entertainment and tourist trades who have commercialized it.
The shirt is specifically designed to be used as a tourniquet, if necessary.