Each beach on Cape Cod offers a different setting. Some provide better waves than others. Some have higher dunes. Others require more walking to get close to the water.
But there are a few consistent themes: White sand, breathtaking views and signs making visitors aware of sharks.
If the size of the sign doesn't catch the attention of beachgoers, the jagged teeth shown from the ferocious-looking shark is guaranteed to grab one's attention.
A couple walked up the stairs to Marconi Beach in Wellfleet one August morning, chatting about various fun activities they planned for the rest of the day. The image of the shark interrupted their gleeful chat.
"There are sharks?" the man said while looking at a sign that describe the presence of sharks in the waters. "Wow, look at that."
A sign warns visitors of sharks at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet.
"With as much coverage as these animals get in the summer, it's easy to assume that everybody knows and is aware of their presence in the summer," research scientist for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Megan Winton said. "But we know from conversations that we have with lot of folks that that's not the case."
At some beaches this summer, a water closure due to a shark sighting nearly became a daily ritual. The signs are just one of many tools Cape Cod beaches introduced this summer to better protect visitors from sharks while also educating them.
"The one thing we've learned is there's no silver bullet, there's no absolute way to protect swimmers from sharks, except with information," said Wendy Northcross, the CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.
Signs warning visitors of sharks isn't new, neither are sharks in New England. The first documented shark attack dates back to 1751.
The signs are much newer and began popping up about four years ago....