Great White Sharks off Cape Cod

A string of great white shark sightings off Cape Cod has some tourists fearful and others hoping to catch a look at the giant creatures themselves. Call it "Jaws" mania.

Officials in Chatham, Massachusetts are warning beach-goers to stay close to shore after several shark sightings near the town.

In a notice on the town's website, the harbormaster warns, "Swimmers should exercise caution while swimming in Chatham's ocean waters."

The notice further suggests, "If a shark is sighted, please get out of the water."

The town is also prohibiting swimming within 300 feet of areas with seals, as seals often attract the giant sharks.

On Tuesday, a 12-foot shark was tagged by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries off Chatham's South Beach. At least three others were spotted close to popular beaches, officials said.

The largest great whites are about 20 feet in length and weigh about 5,000 pounds.

Of course all this comes at the height of the beach-going season in Massachusetts.

But the sharks may be just as a big a tourist attraction as the sands.

The Boston Globe reports crowds gathering at Lighthouse Beach in Chatham hoping to spot the sharks.

"It is jam-packed,'' Lisa Franz, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce, tells the newspaper. "There's lots of traffic and shopping coming in. We've experienced lots of people asking about the shark sightings at our visitor's center."

"I'd like to see both [sharks and seals], personally,'' Kenneth Tambolleo, 48, of Rutland, Massachusetts, visiting the Cape with his family, tells the newspaper. "Let's face it, to see a chase would be pretty cool.''

Despite legends instilled by the popular 1975 "Jaws" movie, filmed off the island of Martha's Vineyard, there have actually only been four shark attacks documented off the Massachusetts coast. And the last fatal attack was in 1936, the Globe reports.

Photo, hermanusbackpackers, flickr
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