"Jaws" Tourism Waves over Cape Cod

Give them shark sightings and they will come

Because a shark sighting beats buttered lobster and white wine spritzers any day. (Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr)
Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr

For tourists seeking a thrill, Martha’s Vineyard probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind. Until now (queue John Williams’s famous score). 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a study finding that after decades of decline, great white shark populations are surging along the eastern shores of Canada and the United States. According to reports from the AP, more than 40 shark sightings were reported in the past two years. Prior to 2004, sightings hovered around two per year. Increased conservation efforts and seal populations have been credited with the related influx of great white sharks in the Cape Cod area

The spike in shark sightings, along with the area’s connection to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, has caused summer tourism to boom. The 1975 classic film, shot in Martha’s Vineyard, has been screened in local theaters all summer. Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, can’t keep enough shark paraphernalia on the shelves, according to the New York Post. “I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel.”

Visitors can sip on shark-themed beverages while taking boat trips with local outfitters to see the seals—and maybe even a dorsal fin sticking out of the water. Beats mini golf, right?

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