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By Mary Ann Bragg - Cape Cod Times
August 07, 2012

ORLEANS — Martha Ganley studied the fact sheet tacked to a board outside the Nauset Beach administration building Monday afternoon, looking at two pictures of dorsal fins, an explanation of great white sharks versus basking sharks.

Ganley, who lives in Tully, N.Y., said she already knows to stay out of the water when seals are around to avoid a shark bite. Still, she and at least six others stood in the full sun, some in wet bathing suits and sandy feet, taking several minutes to scan the pages for more information.

"We've got to be sensible," Ganley said.

Up and down the Cape's Atlantic coast, information about how beachgoers can keep themselves safe from a shark attack is appearing at beach entrances. It might be fair to say that Orleans and Chatham have a head start, given that great whites have been spotted there increasingly for at least three years. In Chatham, for example, a glossy brochure tacked to the entrance message board at Lighthouse Beach warns about sharks and strong currents.

Of 16 beaches checked on Monday from Provincetown to Chatham, the fact sheet at Nauset Beach, managed by the town of Orleans, was the most colorful and comprehensive and seemed to attract the most attention.

In contrast, Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, operated by the Cape Cod National Seashore, didn't have a warning sign either at the entrance booth or at the beach entrances, partly because the signs keep getting stolen, two lifeguards said.

A week ago, on July 30, Christopher Myers of Denver, Colo., was bitten by what is believed to be a great white shark at Ballston Beach in Truro. He was released Friday from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

State shark specialists are still studying the evidence to confirm that it was a great white that bit Myers, a state spokesman said Monday.

If it is in fact a great white, the injury will be the first confirmed human bite in Massachusetts in nearly 80 years, state officials said.

Myers has said he hadn't heard that great white sharks have been increasing off Cape Cod chasing the growing population of seals.

Although he vacations regularly in Truro, he told reporters on Friday that he and his son J.J. wouldn't have been swimming in such risky waters if he'd known about the sharks or seen a sign.


In response to the incident, Truro and Wellfleet and the Seashore have begun adding signs or are considering signs along their ocean beaches. At Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, for example, there is an 8-by-11-inch sign posted by the Seashore that warns, "Caution, Recent Shark Sightings."

In Wellfleet, none of the four ocean beaches managed by the town — Newcomb Hollow, Cahoon Hollow, White Crest and Lecount Hollow — had signs Monday warning bathers that there had been recent shark sightings in a neighboring town or telling them how to protect themselves, according to a survey by a Times reporter and Wellfleet beach administrator Suzanne Grout Thomas.

Thomas said Monday that she will ask selectmen tonight if they want warning signs placed at the beaches.

The other ocean beach in Wellfleet — Marconi Beach, which is managed by the Seashore — had one of the 8-by-11 Seashore signs about shark sightings on a message board at the entrance.

The six ocean swimming beaches in Truro and Provincetown, which are either managed by the Seashore or the town of Truro, had at least one warning sign.

In Truro, beach supervisor Steve St. Clair confirmed that at least one shark warning sign had been stolen. The Truro Board of Selectmen is expected to decide tonight whether to add lifeguards to Ballston Beach after consulting with police, rescuers and beach officials.

At Head of the Meadow in Truro, on the side managed by the town, Francois Blanchette of Montreal headed away from the lifeguard stand to an unguarded section of the beach, and passed one of the shark warning signs.

"It's not going to stop me," Blanchette said. "The guy (Myers) was far away, right?"

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