'Summer Of The Shark'? Cape Cod Booms As Great Whites Invade

Tourism is booming in Cape Cod as the number of great white shark sightings are on the rise, while local fisherman have already observed amazing behavior in one of the ocean's fiercest predators.

Cape Cod businesses are embracing the great white shark influx, Mashable reports. Tourists can catch a showing of Jaws at local theaters, or take a boat tour to observe the local seal population, and hopefully get a glimpse of a great white. Shark t-shirts are ubiquitous, and according to local merchant Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, great business. "Truthfully, we've probably grown about 500% in terms of the sale of our shark apparel," Labdon said.

Once a rarity, sightings of great white sharks have risen in recent years, due in part to conservation efforts that have resulted in a resurgence of the species, according to PhysOrg. Growing colonies of gray seals off Cape Cod have provided accessible prey for local white sharks as the population "appears to be recovering," said Cami McCandless, one of the authors of a NOAA study on white shark numbers, published in PLOS ONE.Earlier this month, Capt. Larry Backman, a contributing writer to On The Water, spotted a 10 to 12 foot great white feeding on a whale carcass south of Martha's Vineyard. His crew was able to film and photograph the shark while it ate. Last month, another fishing boat off Nantucket, the "Salty C's," caught sight of a great white when the shark breached behind their boat, propelling itself out of the water in an attempt to prey on the marlin they had hooked. As The Inquisitr reported at the time, that particular behavior is the subject of Air Jaws, a popular series of specials that air on Discovery.Sightings of white sharks have soared from around two per year before 2004 to an annual average of 20 off Cape Cod. Gregory Skomal, a senior marine fisheries biologist who also leads the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, pointed out that "White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention," adding that he has "not been approached by anyone who has said to me 'let's go kill these sharks.'"

The apex predators are usually seen between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer.

[Image via New England Boating]