Can swimmers and sharks coexist? Smarter maps could help


Medici’s death was the first shark death in Massachusetts since 1936. “We’re on a course, right? Doyle said. “It was three injections in 14 months.” After his friend’s fear of paddleboarding, Doyle co-founded Cape Cod Ocean Community, a group that eventually became a nonprofit dedicated to improving public safety. The group helped connect pilots with rescuers to alert them to possible sharks. He raised funds for giant car-sized drones and balloons with high-definition cameras that could spot sharks, and he advocated for devices such as the Clever buoy, a marine monitoring and warning system that detects large marine life in the water.

But six months study commissioned by Outer Cape Towns and published in October 2019 examined the effectiveness of more than two dozen shark mitigation strategies, including the smart buoy, as well as nets, virtual barriers, electromagnetic devices to deter sharks and drones, among others. The report ultimately concluded that most did not have enough evidence that they actually worked, had limited effectiveness, or would not work on the Cape Cod coastline, except for one: modifying human behavior.

It’s the primary vehicle used by public safety officials to mitigate shark risk over the past eight to nine years, said Suzanne Grout Thomas, director of community services for Wellfleet, a fishing town about 15 miles from the tip of Cape Cod. Since Medici’s death, cities have stepped up their protocols, limiting the distance people can swim and closing beaches to swimming sometimes several times a day. Lifeguards and even some members of the public are trained to “stop the bleeding”Convenient for bites, while signs warn of the presence of sharks. “Our biggest contribution to this is to educate the general public on how sharks can be expected to behave,” says Thomas. And she is already seeing signs that it is working. People swim closer to shore, or don’t swim at all, and they react faster when rescuers whistle for water.

Last summer, Wellfleet had two buoys that sent a signal to rescuers. If a tagged shark came within 200 yards, they could call swimmers out of the water. “There were hundreds and hundreds of sharks that lashed these buoys last summer,” Thomas says. His goal is to have one on each beach.

But this approach, she admits, has its limits. Not all great white sharks are tagged, and cell phone network service at Outer Cape beaches is still spotty at best, meaning any live notification system is difficult to share widely.

While researchers and residents contemplate the best mitigation strategies, one strategy, slaughter, has remained off the table. It’s an approach some countries have tried. Western Australia, for its part, implemented a regional policy in 2012 to track, catch and destroy sharks which posed an “imminent threat” to beach goers. According to International Shark Attack Record, According to a global database, shark attacks in Western Australia have been on a downward trend, but over the past two years have increased again. Although it is difficult to estimate the effects, many experts say that the slaughter plans does not work.

Today, technological advancements and a growing understanding of animal intelligence give researchers hope that another management option may be on the table, one that seeks to understand, rather than modify, the behavior of sharks. .

The bottom of the ocean du Cap is a huge patchwork of sandbanks, shoals and deep trenches. Sharks have learned to navigate this underwater maze. They now hunt in what some call “the trough,” an area of ​​deep water that forms like the letter C between the outside sandbar and the beach. Because seals are often found in these shallow waters near shore, sharks have learned to attack sideways rather than ambush from below. In fact, unlike other parts of the world, Cape Cod sharks spend about half their time in water shallower than 15 feet, according to a recent study who analyzed the data collected on eight great whites.



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