Pilot Aaron Knight likes to take his family and friends to fly over Monomoy Island, a haven for seals at near Cape Cod.
“It’s a neat attraction to fly around and check them out, but now it’s scary,” he said.
Knight said it’s scary because seals are a favorite meal of great white sharks. This has led local officials around Cape Cod to prepare numerous safety precautions to protect the public from shark-infested waters this summer.
Footage of the seals was captured by Knight on Cape Cod on Sunday, The Boston Globe reported. The video reveals an unbroken line of seals, basking in the spring sun on the island’s entire coastline for miles and miles.
The pilot called it an “infinite forever stretch of seals… It’s a continuous blubber buffet for the great whites.”
Monomoy is a nature preserve and uninhabited, except for what appears to be thousands upon thousands of seals. Four different species — gray, harp, ringed, and hooded — are known to occupy Cape Cod.
Seals are a common sight this time of year, but the sheer number of the animals is unusual. Marine Biologist Owen Nichols told CBS News that we’re basically seeing a “recolonization” and “resurgence” of seals after they were nearly exterminated through the 1960s.
Seals are now federally protected, but not long ago, it was rare to spot even one.
However, an unfortunate consequence of having all of these seals in Cape Cod is that they compete with local fisherman.
Seals eat like hogs; an 800-pound male can inhale six percent of his body weight, or 50 pounds, of fish every day. And they are eating cod and flounder that would otherwise end up in fishermen’s nets.
Scientists and fishermen are now joining forces to control the seal population while still maintaining conservation efforts. At the same time, they want to protect people’s livelihoods.
But a more dire consequence of having more seals is that they’ll lure even deadlier animals.
Officials have already connected the collection of seals to an increase in great white sharks in the waters around Cape Cod — they’re looking for food. In 2014, 68 sharks were spotted off Cape Cod, a number that doubled last year to 140.
A state shark scientist named Gregory Skomal told a meeting of a regional shark working group that they’ll show up early this year because the water is warmer, The Cape Cod Times added.
The working group — comprised of representatives from Provincetown to Plymouth, the Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy — considered the footage of the seals concerning.
With the assumption that the seals will bring sharks to Cape Cod, they’re already jumpstarting measures to protect the public before they head to the beaches this summer.
They’re working on a computer-based alert system that notifies people when a shark is spotted by researchers, public safety staff, or the public. Another project is an app that will inform people of shark sightings through a map and let them upload videos.
Officials are also boosting cell phone coverage, adding 911 call boxes to off-road trails, and adding signs and flying purple flags decorated with white sharks to warn people of sightings.
Last year, officials counted the highest number of sharks: 20 of them, picked up by receivers. As a result, beaches were closed to swimming for the eight of the last 12 days of summer.
So while the sight of so many seals dotting the beach enjoying a warm spring day may be an inspiring sight, it’s not exactly the best news for locals.
“More seals, more sharks,” one person commented on Facebook.
[Photo By Erwin Niemand/Shutterstock]