Great white shark sighting rumors have been circulating in New England for the past several weeks, and with the confirmed catch of a 7-foot great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an advisory on July 2, 2010 cautioning recreational boaters and paddlers to be alert to the presence of these dangerous predators.
"Predation is not generally a concern for boaters and paddlers in Northeast waters," said Al Johnson, the First Coast Guard District's recreational boating specialist, in a news release. He added, however: "I have no doubt that a great white shark that swims into your comfort zone would surely find a splashing paddle or dangling hand inviting. I also expect that same passing shark would spend little time differentiating between boater, paddler and prey." Great white sharks, which range from six to 15 feet in length, could easily capsize a small boat or kayak.
Shark attacks in New England have historically been extremely rare, and the Coast Guard advisory emphasized: "There have been no recent sightings along coastal beaches." These tips on how to avoid a shark attack from About.com's Marine Life Guide Jennifer Kennedy, are worth a read, however, if you plan to visit the New England coast this summer, particularly if you plan to do any off-shore boating or sea kayaking.
Johnson particularly cautions boaters to steer away from seals, upon which great white sharks prey. New England's growing seal population is known to be a factor in attracting sharks to the region's coastal waters. "Simply put, why take a chance?" he said in the release. "The presence of sharks in our waters creates a risk, and positively assessing that risk and staying alert is part of being a responsible and prudent mariner. A close encounter could easily have tragic consequence; I recommend an extreme degree of caution."
Johnson also recommends that a VHF radio, monitored on channel 16, "is your gateway to communicating with the Coast Guard or other vessels in your area and can be a life saver in a distress situation."
More Helpful Shark Safety Resources from About.com