By Larry Olmsted, ForbesLife
While set on fictional Amity Island, the blockbuster movie Jaws was actually filmed on and around Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, MA. The Cape remains an extremely popular summer vacation destination for tourists, and a gathering area for sharks, the subject of the scary movie. But while Jaws made Great Whites an icon for terror, the story’s bestselling author, Peter Benchley, spent much of the rest of his life trying to reverse their image and promote much-needed shark conservation. Today, shark research and conservation campaigns are getting traction worldwide, and one of Cape Cod’s most acclaimed luxury resorts just added a win-win program for its guests and for sharks. The Forbes 4-Star Chatham Bars Inn forged an exclusive partnership with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC). As a result, there are four new ways for guests to quench their thirst for shark curiosity while helping scientists study the ocean’s most famous predator.
The top shelf offering is “Research Trips,” wherein guests join scientists on a research vessel for a full day. Working with a spotter plane, the AWSC team tracks, photographs, and tries to tag a Great White (obviously sharks are not guaranteed, but last summer 68 Great Whites were identified). Research Trips are available by special arrangement on Mondays and Thursdays from August through October, and each is limited to two guests, 18 and over ($2,500 per couple, via non-refundable, weather permitting, tax-deductible donation to the AWSC).
The other options are less expensive and more accessible. “Receiver Excursions” ($50 per person) begin in July, allowing resort guests to explore the harbor with a shark researcher. Every Monday and Wednesday, a member of the AWSC will host a one-hour morning charter for up to 17 guests on Chatham Bars Inn’s private boat, Bartender. The trip will bring guests to sandbars where grey seals gather, looking for evidence of predation, then to “shark cove” where a shark receiver is hauled up for analysis (the device tracks tagged sharks). Complimentary “Research Debriefs” are offered every Monday and Thursday from approximately 2-3 PM, when research vessels dock at the resort. Guests gather at the Inn’s Beach House restaurant and bar to hear about the day’s work from scientists and their research crew. Finally, there are individually scheduled “Group Lectures,” hosted by high level AWSC staffers and aimed at meeting and conference groups.