It's that time of the year when shark sightings start to pick up around Cape Cod.
While sightings and reports have been down compared to this time last year, that doesn't mean they’re not in our local waters.
"Sharks are here,” said Megan Winton, a Research Scientist for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “They're still here even if you're not hearing that much about them in the news right now."
Shark activity is seemingly down on the popular tracking app "Sharktivity".
"It allows us when we're out on the water to input sightings data,” Winton said. “We want people to know where the sharks are. Where we're seeing sharks. It also allows people who have the app to input their own sightings."
But many researchers and Shark Eco Tours that are responsible for a large portion of sightings have been grounded as a result of COVID-19.
"If there aren't people out on the water to see the sharks and report sharks there's going to be fewer sightings," Winton said.
But it's not out of sight out of mind.
"We know from a decade's worth of tagging data that been collected by the division of marine fisheries that white sharks are a predictable visitor to our waters in the summer through the fall," said Winton.
Also impacted by the pandemic are the number of lifeguards. Staffing reductions amid COVID-19 means a number of beaches will go unsupervised.
"People are definitely nervous about the lower number of guards that are watching the ocean,” said Janine Cote, of West Hartford. "But I have noticed spotter planes have been increasing over the past couple of weeks. So it's not like the ocean is completely dead. There are people out there that are looking out for our safety, so I want to make sure that we reflect that the Cape is thinking about that and the Cape does keep us safe and tries the best."
Officials also encourage you to be shark smart. That includes:
- Swimming at guarded beaches
- Swimming close to shore
- Watching your depth and proximity to seals
- Never swim alone
- Don't swim in choppy or low visibility conditions