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Cape Cod Too Many Seals, Not Enough Sharks

The growing seal population on the Cape will be an ever increasing problem into the future. As a commercial fisherman, I can tell you that the local seal population has expanded rapidly over the last 10 years. When I was fishing ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, seeing a seal was a rarity. Not the case at all today.

After the reading the published reports of witnesses that saw a Great White Shark eating a seal along the shore of Nauset Beach, The Hairy Beast wonders:

...if more yummy, yummy seals swimming close to the beach also means more white sharks swimming after them, also close to the beach?

I would imagine since both sharks and seals are now protected that their populations are growing happily together.

Great White Sharks Eating Seals Video

The seal population here is an issue for a number of reasons, the least of which is the shark population. With the seals now covering large areas of the outer beaches, one concern is pollution from seal waste. I have heard from boaters and fishermen that you can smell the seals from pretty far offshore when the breeze is right, or “ripe”. All these seals doing their business all over miles of shoreline cannot be very good for swimmers. Don’t drink the water… it’s too salty. If everyone you saw at the beach pooped in the water would you go swimming?

The other thing is the effect of an expanding seal population on fish stocks. One concern is the spread of fish-eating parasitic worms found in seal waste. As a commercial fisherman, who fished for codfish 20 years ago in the Gulf of Maine, which had more seals than the Cape did at that time, we knew when the cod we caught were from “up north”. These codfish more often than not had these parasitic “worms” in their flesh. When we brought these fish home to the ports of the Cape, the fish buyers would know as soon as they filleted a few where they were caught. Years ago these worms were rarely found in the codfish off Chatham. These worms are in nearly all the codfish caught now in inshore waters. Last winter we saw that the bellies and livers of many of the monkfish we caught 60 miles south of M/V Nantucket are now loaded with these parasitic worms.

Local fishermen are urging leaders to look into the issue:

The letter said local fishermen, boaters and beachgoers have seen the seal population rapidly expand, and questions whether the increased numbers of seals are responsible for the decline in river herring and commercially important inshore fish.

Bremser said he has been researching the local seal population, “and there’s not a whole lot of data”.  But as an inshore commercial fisherman, every scrod (juvenile codfish) that I cut open to bring home to my family to eat is full of worms”, he said.  The worms are parasites spread by seal feces, Bremser said.  Our fish are basically unmarketable, he said.—source

It is also widely known that seals eat between 6%-8% of their body weight a day.

There are several seals that hang around the Chatham fish pier and I’ll bet some of them weigh 800+ lbs. I’ve seen my brother-in-law feed them skate wings off the back of the fishing vessel DawnT while unloading at the pier.

Let’s say that there are 1000 seals on the outer Cape beaches. The number is much higher,  likely near 10,000. Next we do the math, 1000 seals at an average of 500 lbs. each is 500,000 lbs. of seals. Half-a million pounds of seals times .07 (7%) is 35,000. So a thousand seals can eat 35,000 lbs. of fluke, flounder, river herring, juvenile codfish, striped bass, etc… per day. How much fish will 10,000 seals eat in a day? Well, that’s 350,000 lbs. of fish per day. Chatham harbor used to be a great flounder fishing spot, now you can’t even buy a flounder there.

The State of Massachusetts had a bounty on seals up until 1962. It is unlikely that the sharks will be able keep the seal population in check like a bounty did. There has been some momentum in the Town of Chatham to get the Feds to re-assess the Marine Mammal Protection Act and research the effects of the exploding seal population on the area.

(41 comments) What do you think about Too Many Seals, Not Enough Sharks? Leave a comment

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 08/21/06
Categories: FishingIssuesNature
Keywords: critters, fish, issues, nature, seals, sharks, codfish worms, seal population, great white sharks, Chatham


Comments:

Are you sure you aren’t from Canada?  Sounds like you fishermen are jumping on the same bandwagon as the greedy fishermen up here.  If you do decide to control seal populations, at least do it humanely, unlike this disgusting country I live in.  You can control the populaion by giving themn contraceptives.  The DFO did a study on it and didn’t follow through with it becuase the greedy fishermen up here wanted a commercial slaughter where they could get money for their coats.  The market for the pelts is dwindling, thank God, as people are finding out for themselves about the intolerable cruelty these mammals are dealt, so in a few years the pelts will be totally worhtless and hopefully a more humane method of controlling the population will be adopted.  Mother nature has a way of taking care of things herself though - if man would just stop interfering.  Do bugger around with the ecosystem will only spell trouble.  I suggest you stop overfishing and leave mother nature to do her own work.

Posted by Christina Hampton from Nova Scotia on 02/27/08 at 10:27 AM | #

Made my opinions known in the last (Feb) issue of the On the Water” Magazine in “letters to Pops” column. Fall surf fishing trips to the Cape over 25 years keep getting worse and seals now grabbing our hooked big bluefish and stripers. It is awful. Way too many of them. Fishermen coming to Cape keeps getting less- hotels, restaurants and businesses noticing the negative economic impact. The herd need to be thinned!

Posted by Ric Casilli from Lynn Ma. on 03/07/08 at 12:26 AM | #

June 28, 2008

Boat passengers witness shark attack
Fourteen passengers on a Chatham seal watch boat saw a shark attack and kill a seal yesterday during a cruise to Monomoy Island.

Capt. Bob Littlefield is sure the shark he saw rip a seal in half yesterday afternoon was a great white.

“It was a quite a bloody mess,” said Littlefield, who has been a captain on Cape Cod for 32 years.

Littlefield was steering a 42-foot, high-speed catamaran owned by Monomoy Island Excursions of Harwich Port on the ocean side of Monomoy, where hundreds of seals were sunning and swimming, when suddenly there was a commotion in the water.

Littlefield, who said he had always wanted to see a shark eat a seal, turned the boat toward the area, which quickly became red with blood. As the boat got closer, the shark went under, taking half of the gray seal with it. The tour captain estimated the seal to be 300 to 400 pounds, and the shark to be between 14 and 16 feet.

full story

Posted by Cape Cod from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 06/28/08 at 08:01 PM | #

I HAVE (SURF)FISHED NAUSET BEACH FOR 24 YRS +. WHEN i SAW A GRAY SEAL 20 YRS AGO WE WOULD TAKE A PICTURE. NOW ID RATHER PULL A TRIGGER THAN PRESS A BUTTON. THIS IS A “HUGE” PROBLEM.  2002 WAS THE LAST YEAR I BOUGHT A BEACH STICKER FOR NAUSET.  WHY? BECAUSE MY LAST THREE DAYTIME KEEPERS WERE ALL MAULED/KILLED BY A GLUTTUONESS HORSEHEAD.  NOW THEYRE IN EVERY HOLE FROM MONOMOY TO RACE PT. SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE DONE.  THE GREAT WHITES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AROUND,THEY JUST HAVE 7,000 MORE REASONS TO COME CLOSER TO SHORE.  ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE ONE OF THE SURFER DUDES GETS WHACKED.

Posted by david l mccoubrey jr from CAPE COD on 07/09/08 at 03:29 PM | #

Your brother-in-law may be interested to know that by feeding the seals off his boat, he is in direct violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which carries a penalty of $10,000 for each violation.

Posted by seal1 from Vineyard on 07/21/08 at 03:54 PM | #

Having just returned from Striped Bass fishing off of South Beach in Chatham I can attest to the growing and annoying seal population. These seals actually follow you around in the hopes of liberating your struggling Striper on the line! I have seen it happen first hand. The seals have learned to stay close to the fisherman and when the fisherman catches a fish, steal it from him! I realize folks like to look at the pretty seals but one ought to realize how many fish they are eating every day thus ruining a world class fishery that the Outer Cape is.

Posted by Jim Kieffner from Uxbridge, Ma. on 06/10/09 at 08:15 PM | #

I was just discussing this issue with a Portuguese friend today, a knowledgeable fisherman.  While it seems pretty obvious that the seals are really making inroads on the fish supply, especially for surfcasters etc. I do not feel that inhumane methods should be used to reduce the population. Said friend told of traps with fishhooks that grip the seals and seals in Boston Harbor with their throats slashed.  Surely they can be shot and such killing monitored by managing bodies and it be required that the meat be used as well as the skins.

Humans are very arrogant re: their position in the food chain.  We are capable of managing wildlife humanely.

Posted by Marcia from Truro on 07/19/09 at 03:29 PM | #

I agree Marcia. As an avid hunter im all for rules/regulations and nothing should be wasted. Because we (humans)have messed up Mother Nature so bad its essential we fix/monitor our mistakes. Im still waiting for a Shark attack on the backside. Only then will the problem be addressed, unfortunately.

Posted by d mccoubrey jr from sandwich ma on 07/20/09 at 09:38 AM | #

Kayakers get too close to shark
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cape Codders Bruce Bean and Rod MacKinnon were kayaking from Chatham to Monomoy Island early Saturday morning when they heard a large splash near Chatham Lighthouse, Bean said yesterday.

They soon spotted a large gray seal streaming blood and a large black fin in the water nearby. At one point the mortally wounded seal surfaced for air about 5 feet from the kayaks, Bean said.

The two men followed a prearranged plan in case of a shark sighting, rafting their kayaks together to appear larger, Bean said. After the seal and shark disappeared, the men quickly paddled away from the bloodied water.

Saturday’s report is the first sighting of such an attack this season.

Posted by Cape Cod from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 08/19/09 at 11:49 AM | #

I’m tellin ya.  One of these days it wont be a (mortally wounded) large Gray Seal surfacing for air, but rather
a (mortally wounded) large black- neoprene clad surfer surfacing for air. Then what will the authorities do????

First they’ll say “I think we have a Seal Problem.”  H.E.L.L.O…....its been 10 yrs now!

Posted by D Mccoubrey from Cape Cod on 08/24/09 at 11:03 AM | #

Check out my posts from last summer…that actually started 10 YEARS AGO!!

Posted by david mccoubrey from sandwich on 09/09/09 at 03:30 PM | #

Speaking as a surfer of 15 years, and a former New England native transplanted to California for the past 12 years…a shark attack on a human does NOT equal a seal problem.

Marine mammals are protected in CA also. We have many more pinnipeds, GW sharks, and surfers. Occasionally, a surfer or swimmer gets attacked and even killed. As tragic as it may be, people tend not to overreact and declare war on the wildlife. After all, if you have the balls to recreate in the ocean, you also bear the burden of responsibility for your own safety. We surfers accept the inherent risk of entering waters populated by sharks and their prey. Despite the danger, many of us advocate for the protection and conservation of all marine wildlife, including sharks.

To tell you the truth, I feel safer surfing colder, sharky, GW prowled waters than I did surfing the truly shark infested waters of New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
As for the fisherman out there complaining about seals stealing all of their fish. One could make the exact same argument against humans. There are definitely more than enough of them around, as well. And I know which species I’d prefer to impose population control upon.

Posted by surfer girl from Santa Cruz, Ca on 09/10/09 at 01:51 AM | #

Hi Surfer Girl, I like your post.

I’m EXTREMELY “conservation -minded”

Ive hunted/fished all my life And have a whole lot more respect for Mother Nature than mankind. I understand the checks and balances that occur and how they work. “I” didn’t recreate the ocean (although i do have the “kozznotchies”) the scientists/researchers did, proves how much they know.

But…If “we” as a society want to change the balance of populations (1st all out slaughter) than (Endangered Species Act) we have to deal with the repercussions ( see my interview in CC Times ). We saved the Gray Wolf out west. Guess what, as of yesterday they can now hunt them.??? Because their pop grew to sustainable levels and perhaps beyond?

Look at the Alligator problem down south, protected for years. Now their eating up dogs,cats…children, even from the littlest of water holes. Now theres a hunting season open on them. Beaver population growing in Western Mass (Ban on trapping passed) more dumb ass legislation. Peoples homes are getting flooded, insurance doesnt cover Beaver dams! Now we have a Gray Seal population that Monomoy/Chatham cant sustain. Ive said for a long,long time wait till the big girls show up!!!!! Sharks arent a problem, but 7000 SEALS ARE!!! especially in a small confined area like Monomoy. “We” brought the sharks here by letting Seal numbers grow UNCHECKED.If someone does get an exploratory bite (often thats enough for fatality) My opinion is The shark that did the damage was DRAWN CLOSER TO SHORE by the 7000 seals.

How come multiple sharks sightings didnt happen when there was say a 1000 seals? The majority of GW I think are usually offshore stalking whales, Tuna, Dolphin etc. 4,200,000 lbs of protein rich blubber hanging out in a few square miles is a bigger/louder dinner bell.Being warm blooded they could stay past Thanksgiving!

Posted by david mccoubrey from sandwich on 09/10/09 at 11:25 AM | #

Well said David. In my simplistic way of thinking I liken all of those seals on South Beach & Monomoy Island, Cape Cod, as a huge banquet table that has been set for years with no guest showing up for the feast that awaits them. Then, a stragler comes upon the secene and tells all of his friends about what they’ve been missing.
The time has come where his friends are showing up!

Posted by Jim Kieffner from Uxbridge, MA. on 09/10/09 at 02:05 PM | #

I’ll melt the butter.

Posted by david mccoubrey from sandwich on 09/11/09 at 07:36 AM | #

When we were unloading at the Chatham Fish Pier last week, the seals around the pier appeared to be starving.

You see, usually a seal will turn its nose when dogfish are discarded at the pier. Last week however, six seals were actually fighting over two rotten week-old dogfish we found under one of the brine tanks on the deck.

Now either the seals are too scared to venture out because of the sharks or they have eaten every striper, flounder and other fish in Chatham Harbor.

I would be willing to bet it’s the latter.

Posted by Cape Cod from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 09/11/09 at 10:37 AM | #

The Great Whites wont kill em all.
“We” cannot kill them (politically incorrect).
THE GRAY SEALS WILL LEAVE CHATHAM FOR GOOD ONLY WHEN THEIR FOOD SOURCE IS DEPLETED.
And hopefully go back to Canada where they came from!
I’ll bet this is the most southern latitude Gray Seals have set up shop.
And we have the warmest summer ocean temps in decades this year….? Maybe they’ll slowly evolve into Manatees. Darwin’s answer to global warming?

Posted by david mccoubrey from sandwich on 09/11/09 at 11:23 AM | #

to david mccoubrey,

Thanks for the response. I appreciate that as a hunter and fisherman you are conservation minded; many of you are.
First of all, the current situation with wolves out west is an example of wildlife mis-management, and a very different set of circumstances from the seal, and other wildlife populations. It is a direct consequence of a misguided wildlife management decision. They were not trying to recover an existing population, they reintroduced the species to Yellowstone. I opposed this from the beginning because I knew what their fate would be.

One of the reasons that predator/prey populations have become so imbalanced is because of human interference. One of the reasons that wildlife populations are now in constant conflict with humanity is because of an unchecked and ever expanding human population. A population which continues to encroach on habitats, both on land and at sea.

California is a place densely populated with both humans and wild animals and, inevitably, conflicts do arise. However, it is interesting to see just how adapted people and animals have become to living in such close proximity to one another.

In other words folks, you may just have to get used to it. I highly doubt seal clubbing is going to make a comeback anytime soon.

Posted by surfer girl from Santa Cruz, Ca on 09/12/09 at 05:21 AM | #

Sorry surfer girl…..  But the wolves introduced to Yellowstone etc. are not native and they are completely out of control. In fact the non-native Canadians are killing or have killed off the much smaller native strain. Fish and Game said there would be only 300-350 of them. We are on our way to 3000 of the destructive pack animals. Way to go morons. It’s like good ole fish and game poisoning the sockeye out of Redfish Lake then wigging out when the population numbers get low.  MA should re-introduce a controlled hunt on seals. Why? Cause they need to be at a manageable population level too.  And by the way people are not pollution, at least not most of us.

Posted by Dave from Idaho on 08/01/10 at 12:11 AM | #

Kill every shark in the ocean. I lost my only keeper striper at Race Pt. last year to a seal while kayaking. OK, it happens but great whites; no way. The cape will be a ghost town.

Posted by Dr J Winston from New York City on 08/02/10 at 02:16 PM | #

I surf fished on the Coast Guard beach and Nauset inlet in the 90’s when our family vacationed each summer and was sure to catch striped bass.  Now in the last several years the stripers are gone and the seals are out visible.  I believe based on my observation that the seals have hurt the beach striper fishing.  This has to also hurt the local economy with fisherman leaving this once strong fishery.

Posted by Kricketman from CT on 08/03/10 at 09:43 PM | #

I lived in Chatham with my parents while I attended college back in the 70s, met my wife there and have since taken my children back for summer vacations. Back then there were NO seals on Monomoy - and no great whites. When I saw the seal population soaring out of control, I asked myself how long it would be before the great whites would be infesting our waters. Well, they’ve gotten the message, and once again the deadly marriage - government and science researchers - has spawned a new epidemic that they won’t rectify until some innocents have to die, either by sharks or (less likely but possibly) seals. Oh for the beautiful Chatham we once had before the environmental extremists launched their latest initiative with all the unintended consequences that come from not having done ALL their homework first ... and then permitting the public to determine whether to proceed with the initiative! As a believer in being a country of free people, I am appalled, and I hope we can turn this around.

Posted by Robert Henry from Hopewell, NJ - former resident of Chatham on 08/03/10 at 11:17 PM | #

Right you are Robert. “Some innocents have to die”. It seems it always takes a tragedy before any constructive initiatives are taken. We’ve seen it before. The bridge that doesn’t get fixed until it collapses. A stoplight finally gets installed after repeated fatalities at the same deadly intersection, etc., etc.  Sooner or later we will have a shark attack somewhere off of Cape Cod and like the poster before me, we should take it in stride. If we are to live in somewhat harmony with nature that is the price we will have to pay. I am a surf fisherman and believe me the last thing that I want to see swimming around me is a Great White while I am stinking of baitfish! Ultimately it is up to me to take precautions as it is for the surfers, bathers, kayakers, etc. Understand the risks before entering the water.

Posted by Jium Kieffner from Uxbridge on 08/04/10 at 06:45 AM | #

Talk about “not doing all your homework”!  Take a basic Ecology class and you’ll understand the importance of top predators like great whites.  Read a little bit about Risk Assessment and you’ll learn why your fears of shark attacks (and seal attacks!) are unwarranted.  Stop getting your information from right-wing media whack-jobs or you’ll always live in fear and never be free.

Posted by northmonomoy from chatham on 08/05/10 at 06:46 PM | #

Your comment is good for dialogue, but you assume that I have not done my homework, because my conclusion differs from yours.  I think, conduct research, write poetry, have founded a peer-reviewed health care journal on healthcare resource allocation, and do not let anyone dictate my point of view. So please keep the debate civilized. Apparently it will help to clarify my position, based on research, direct personal experience, and reflection.

Chatham was doing fine until the balance of nature was radically, recklessly altered by the government in 1972 with the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The law is an example of strategy with poorly executed tactics, by including in its list of protected species the gray seal and harbor seal - neither of which is an endangered species! The law has failed to factor in the humans whose safety is jeopardized by legislation strong on vision but weak on evidence. It has turned a beautiful, safe place into a place of danger foreign to New England - up until now. The law has no provisions for averting harm to the public. It appears designed to satisfy the vision of scientists and the legislators they hoodwinked, who want to transform the Cape into a large zoo without safety rails. And where is the right of the people to determine these matters? This is legislation administered with an iron fist. I prefer liberty, American style.

Let’s get down to cases. Who would like to rationalize the joys of unbridled environmentalism to the parents of children who WILL fall victim to the new sharks in the neighborhood? How will the armchair love of environmentalism-without-balance hold up then? Again, New England has had no attractive environment for them … until it was legislated into existence. Frankly, when it comes to accommodating the desire of an unendangered species versus the safety of humans, I have no difficulty establishing priorities. The seals can go back whence they came. We did fine before 1972 without them.

Posted by Robert Henry from Hopewell, NJ - former resident of Chatham on 08/05/10 at 11:28 PM | #

Here’s to you surfer girl!  I agree 100%.

Posted by TX Longhorn from Colorado on 08/07/10 at 12:50 PM | #

My apologies Robert.  I assume you are referring to my comment, “Stop getting your information from right-wing media whack-jobs or you’ll always live in fear and never be free” when you refer to less than civil debate.  It’s just that when I here anti-science, anti-government, and anti-environment comments and unwarranted fears, I suspect the right-wing disinformation machine. Your call for civil debate does make me question my assumptions of your worldview being shaped by said sources.  By the way, are you assuming that the scientists and environmental extremists “haven’t done all their homework” because their conclusions don’t agree with yours? 

But to the case of the seals and sharks … You’re right, the MMPA of 1972 does protect all marine mammals regardless of their population status.  Harp seal populations are steady and strong and Gray seals are not listed on the U.S. ESA,  (although they are listed on the IUCN red list of threatened species.)  The MMPA was the first attempt at protecting biodiversity from an ecosystem approach, rather than on a species-by-species basis.  The rationale for this law was the direct result of a systematic overharvesting of all the great whale species led by the U.S. whaling industry.  There has never been a track record of sustainable use of “The Commons”, whether it’s whales, fish, water, or the atmosphere.  And on this, I’m sure we disagree; sustainable use requires science-based management.

To Be Continued in the next post ...

Posted by northmonomoy from Chatham on 08/08/10 at 10:09 PM | #

As for sharks, I suspect there have always been sharks in these waters.  And on very rare occasions, sharks attack humans.  Less than ten fatalities a year world-wide.  As a risk to your well-being, it ranks as one of the lowest.  The last fatal shark attack in Massachusetts was in 1936 (a great white) in Buzzards Bay – and no seals around (although there has been a winter Gray Seal rookery on Monomoy for hundreds if not thousands of years.)  Humans kill 100 million sharks a year, mostly for their fins and nothing else.  Would I let my children swim among the seals on South Beach?  No.  The currents are too dangerous and seals can bite.  Would I want to take steps to eliminate the seals and sharks just so that my kids can swim on South Beach (which didn’t exist in the “Beautiful Chatham” of the 1970’s), no. 

By the way, the iron-fisted MMPA legislation was amended in 1994 with language authorizing the taking of marine mammal incidental to commercial fishing operations.  Laws can be changed.  I prefer Democracy, American style.

Respectfully,
Steve

Posted by northmonomoy from Chatham on 08/08/10 at 10:13 PM | #

my 2 cents worth…like it or not…The cape is turning into just another dumpy MA town with pawn shops walmarts, and convienence stores…The seals and sharks are going to expedite the process..I have lived here for several years, and fished and swam at the beaches and in the waters of the Cape every summer since 1965. The Cape was (and is in my heart and memories)one of my favorite places. It’s such a shame that the enviro whack jobs screwed the pooch yet again..The Grey seals don’t belong here..don’t get me wrong ..I love nature, and belive in preservation of all species, it’s just that the money the cape brings in from tourism and fishing is its bread and butter, take that away then its the Capes death knell.
And mark my words…,someone is going to be attacked and killed in the very near future…“you go in the water” ...“sharks in the water”,...(with a smile on his face)“fairwell and adu to you my fair spanish lady”))))..it really is sad to see the cape go…

Posted by dan from Cape on 08/11/10 at 08:31 AM | #

Why is the government at fault because seals are inhabiting Cape waters?  Did Deval Patrick send out an vacation brochure to a seal colony from Canada? 

Its human beings who are destroying the oceans, not seals or sharks. Nature will control seal popuations just fine on its own… if you let it. 

By the way, your 10 times more likely to be killed by a coconut falling from a tree and hitting you in the head than killed by a shark.  Your 1000+ times more likely to be killed by a snake or bee colony.  Lets all chill out about shark attacks.

Posted by Jesus Christ from Heaven on 08/13/10 at 04:02 PM | #

Got to agree with Jesus on this one.  More people die each year from soda machines falling on them than from shark attacks.  I’m not sure how Robert and Dan are so certain fatal attacks will occur.  Dan you lament the changing Cape with its proliferation of Walmarts and strip-mall convenience stores and then blame enviro whack jobs but most environmentalists I know are opposed to this type of development.  They’re your friends! 

The seals have created a boom in tourism for Chatham and have spawned a new seal-watch industry.  And the commercial fishing has been in decline but not because of the seals.  Fisherman and their technology are too good at what they do.  Once we kicked the Russians out with the passing of the 200-mile limit, we jumped in and out-fished every commercially valuable species in our waters.

Posted by northmonomoy from chatham on 08/13/10 at 05:10 PM | #

Since we’re on the topic of populations anyway - the combined population of Boston/Lawrence/Worcester in 1950 was 3.456 million. The population of Boston alone today is 6.6 million. Add to this the fact that sharks and seals are pretty predictable creatures, and I’ll take my chances in the water, thanks. Just sayin’.

Posted by Surf Hoss from on the waves daily on 08/15/10 at 07:46 AM | #

Northmonomoy - Thank you for your courteous reply.  You are obviously dedicated to understanding the environment and making choices based on facts. There is another consideration, based on the application of research in medical care. National averages in patient reactions to medications (population-based research findings) is only the beginning in knowing which individual patients should be treated by them (personalized medicine). The “average” patient is half male and half female – a lousy data point to direct a clinician’s treatment choice. Importantly, the professional objectives of clinicians and researchers are vastly different.
My point is that we can learn from the lesson gained by healthcare in this matter of selective expansion of seal/shark populations: ie, do it where it belongs. To quote the ancient physicians’ credo, “Primum non nocere” (“First do no harm”) … especially to human beings, whose safety must be considered at Chatham. So it is with the introduction of seals into Monomoy and South Beach (which in 1974 was supplied by a far larger Coast Guard Beach – a distinction without a difference). The law that made the seal population grow from near zero to 300,000 is just such an example of a population-based application of statistics, when individual locales must be considered – there is no sense trying to apply marine mammal protection appropriate to the West Coast here in Chatham when it isn’t needed, and will do plenty of harm. We have to translate strategic goals into tactical realities, projecting the likely impact on various LOCAL areas.
The sharks deserve to use the ocean. And so do we, swimming in the peace that we come to the seaside to receive in the first place.

Posted by Robert Henry from Hopewell, NJ - former resident of Chatham on 08/18/10 at 06:21 PM | #

The reason there are very few great whites killing humans is that humans do not generally go swimming in Great White infested waters.

Chatham and Cape Cod have a problem with sharks and seals. I also knew 5 years ago that we would have a Great White problem as the seal populations expanded…does not take a scientist to figure these things out.

Would I buy or rent a summer home on Cape Cod if I liked water sports..nope…did I come home to see my family on the Cape this year..nope…Walking the beach is fine, but not being able to swim, kayak, row, sail, wade or safely surf cast makes it a hollow waste of time.
I can only guess that the people that are supporting the Great Whites new domanance of our coast never caught a flounder from a cape dory, or sailed a cape cod cat or a sunfish , jumped off the deck of a boat, waterskied, swam or waded off Chatham or any where off the Cape Cod shorelines and beaches.

I will not take a position on killing the seals, if that is what it takes so be it. Instead of tagging Great Whites, we should kill them or capture them a live and relocate them to the Pacific off of California..they seem to be welcome there.

Someone is going to get killed if they go into the water…going into the water includes a boat sinking or overturning…whether is it is a child swimming..a surfer..a kayaker..a wind surfer…it will be a stupid loss of life.

The loss of our flounder and other fish to the seals huge consumption or scrod/cod rendered inedible due to seal feces is a disgrace. The fact that at least one writer here expressed destain and resentment of local commercial fishermen is appalling to me. These fisherman are Cape Codders and our friends, neighbors and family.

Posted by Dave 59 from Formerly from the Peoples Republic of Massachusett on 08/22/10 at 06:29 PM | #

i just cut up a small cod from rhode island and it was loaded with worms. i must have taken out apx 20..    if the seals are causing the problem then kill them..  thats all one of my kids needs is to get a paracite from a dinner i make them…

kill the seals. bring the flounder and wormless cod.!!!

kill the seals they are worthless.

Posted by drew from long island on 01/14/11 at 02:44 PM | #

Stripers are few and far between. Seals are many, 250+ count on one sandbar at Chatham inlet and all over , Monomoy,  the new cut opposite Allen’s Point in Pleasant bay, and other sand bars and beaches next to deeper water.  This will end recreational fishing in the Cape Cod area unless the authorties do something about them.

Posted by Walter Olsen from Chatham, Ma on 01/15/11 at 06:09 PM | #

It has been several years since myself and my friends from N.J., N.Y. & Ma. have gotten together for our annual fishing trip to Chatham. Why? Because the fishing turned terrible! The ones from New Jersey said they weren’t going to make the trek up here only to get skunked. We were not insatiable fisherman who kept everything we caught. We released everything we caught for the sport of it all. So now we no longer share in the camaraderie that I so looked forward to on those spring mini vacations. We left no trace and patronized all of the establishments while there. I miss it and wonder if I’m not alone in the way I feel? I don’t hate the seals and I don’t hate the sharks. I DO HATE the unbridled feces and out of control parasitic worms however. I just would like to return to those better memories that we once all shared. I wish I knew what the solution was to restore the balance. The problem is real and it is upon us now.

Posted by Jium Kieffner from Uxbridge on 01/17/11 at 11:50 AM | #

I’m more concerned about too many people not too many seals!! You complain about the seal feces?? What about the human pollutions that ruins our water ways?  Please!!!

Posted by Kate from Cape on 03/27/11 at 08:50 PM | #

Robert henry - i think your a little over the top about 1972.  And seals have been on the cape for a very long time. read this;

“It’s an interesting, complicated question,” reflected Lisa Sette, head of the seal program at Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

Factor number one that juiced the seal population isn’t much of a mystery. The bounty hunters disappeared. From 1888 to 1908 and again from 1919 to 1962, Massachusetts awarded a bounty on seals ranging from $1 to $5 per nose.

A recent paper by Maine researcher Barbara Lelli states there were 15,690 bounties paid in Massachusetts over that time, and an additional 24,831 paid in Maine from 1891 to 1945. Those numbers aren’t huge but Lelli estimates between 72,284 and 135,498 were killed in the hunts. That’s “enough to account for regional declines in seal populations,” she wrote.

More seals were killed where there were more people and fishermen.

“The result was there were very few seals around the Cape,” Sette said. “Ten years after (the bounties ended) we had the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972.

Read more: Protections spur a steady rise in Cape Cod’s seal population - - Harwich Oracle http://www.wickedlocal.com/harwich/archive/x882506529/Protections-spur-a-steady-rise-in-Cape-Cods-seal-population#ixzz1NKkRYfW7

Posted by fisherking from Cape & CT on 05/25/11 at 12:36 AM | #

Wow! What a summer for great whites at cape cod. 11 tagged. 1 shark attack. All the lower cape east facing beaches closed for the labor day weekend. A dead 13 foot great white washes up in Westport at the mouth of buzzard’s bay.

The author wrote this piece 6 years ago. He sure was spot on.

Posted by John M from East Falmouth on 09/02/12 at 05:33 PM | #

All of our families are NOT coming to Cape Cod this year for the first time in 20 to 50 years. The shore fishing has been destroyed by the overpopulation of seals.  More seals = NO FISH = less beach fishermen and MORE SHARKS and TONS of Seal Poo and LESS SWIMMERS and
bye bye tourism !
It was fun for everyone for a little while but now everyone is screwed.

Posted by Joe Fish from Conn. Maine, New York, New Jersey on 04/02/13 at 02:54 PM | #

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Related Posts: are tagged with critters, fish, issues, nature, seals, sharks, codfish worms, seal population, great white sharks, Chatham
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