BOURNE (CBS) — The results of an extensive shark study on Cape Cod are out. The report from the Woods Hole Group released Wednesday says more research is needed on shark detection and deterrent technologies.

“There are no silver bullet solutions to ensure 100% safety for individuals who choose to enter the water,” the 192-page report states.

Read The Report (PDF)

The Cape Cod National Seashore and the towns of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro Providence commissioned the $50,000 report after two shark attacks in 2018. One on Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet left 26-year-old Arthur Medici dead.

There have been no shark attacks over the past summer, but Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said that guaranteeing swimmer safety is impossible.

“Any kind of barrier technology where it has been successful in other areas has been for small coves that typically have a hardened shoreline that they can anchor to. We simply do not have that on the Outer Cape,” Carlstrom said. “There is no one solution that’s going to allow for people to be safe should they choose to enter the water.”

Sharks have been drawn to the Cape to prey on the area’s increasing seal population.

“(It’s about) how do we tell people to avoid an attack and how do we as a community respond,” said Wellfleet Town Administrator Dan Hoort.

The report suggests a number of steps that can be taken immediately for swimmer safety, including improved communication networks, faster emergency response and first-aid care, better signage and safety protocols, more lifeguards, expanded education and outreach efforts and “modifying human behaviors to mitigate risk.”

“Reducing chances of unprovoked attacks on humans requires a strong commitment to education and outreach, which can result in the adoption of behaviors that may reduce the risk of a shark-human interaction,” the report states.

When it comes to using technology like drones, sonar and barriers to deter sharks, the report recommends first understanding just how long it would take, what the environmental and financial costs would be and how it could adversely affect humans.


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