WELLFLEET, Mass. (AP) - As Cape Codâ€™s tourist season gets underway, thereâ€™s uncertainty after two shark attacks - including Massachusettsâ€™ first fatal attack since 1936 - rattled beachgoers last year and sparked a still unresolved debate about how the vacation destination should respond.
Among the questions on many minds this Memorial Day holiday weekend: Will there be more attacks? Will the regionâ€™s billion-dollar tourism economy take a hit as scared beachgoers stay away? And is there anything that can be done to make the sea safer?
At Longnook Beach in Truro, where a New York man was badly mauled by a shark but survived on Aug. 15, resident Beckett Rotchford said heâ€™ll likely skip the boogie boarding this summer and stick to swimming at lifeguard-monitored beaches rather than more secluded stretches of sand like Longnook.
But he isnâ€™t in favor of some of the more drastic measures pushed by some, such as shark barriers around popular swimming beaches.
â€śThatâ€™s their habitat. We canâ€™t restrict their ability to swim,â€ť Rotchford said as he walked along the shore with his dog. â€śI think we can coexist, but occasionally attacks happen. Itâ€™s just the reality.â€ť
At Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, where 26-year-old Arthur Medici was killed by a shark while boogie boarding Sept. 15, Brewster resident Leslie Young said sheâ€™d be open to somehow limiting the seal population that draws the sharks in the first place. Town officials are studying a range of controversial measures, including administering contraception to seals or outright culling them.
But Youngâ€™s niece, Ashley Frisbee, wasnâ€™t so sure.
â€śThatâ€™s ridiculous. The sharks are the ones feeding on them,â€ť the 25-year-old Oklahoma City resident said of the seals. â€śThey shouldnâ€™t be punished.â€ť
Frisbee said she briefly waded into the ocean earlier in the week and says she would have ventured out farther had the water not been so chilly.
â€śIâ€™d definitely be cautious,â€ť she said, while her family paused at an informal memorial to Medici set up at the top of the sandy path down to the beach. â€śI wouldnâ€™t swim farther out than anyone else on the beach, but I wouldnâ€™t stop swimming.â€ť
Lifeguards wonâ€™t be out at most Cape beaches until late June, and the modest safety measures promised by local officials - such as providing new emergency call boxes and medical kits stuffed with tourniquets and other lifesaving equipment at beaches - also wonâ€™t be up and running until then at a number of beaches.