White sharks close to shore

White sharks off the coast of Massachusetts have gained local and national attention. The species existed long before coastal communities were settled or became popular destinations, and in recent years their numbers have increased. As top predators, sharks are critical for maintaining a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem.

The inshore waters off many Cape Cod and South Shore beaches are preferred feeding grounds for white sharks. They hunt and feed on seals in shallow water close to shore. While white shark bites on humans are rare, they have occurred off Cape Cod. The most recent bite resulted in a fatality.

The Cape Cod National Seashore, the towns of Cape Cod and the Islands, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have worked together to produce shark advisory signs for beaches, flags, and brochures that provide education and tips for beach users.

The only way to completely eliminate the risk of encountering a shark is to remain on shore.

if you choose to enter the water:

  • Be aware sharks hunt for seals in shallow water.  

  • Stay close to shore where rescuers can reach you.

  • Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in groups – don’t isolate yourself.

  • Avoid areas where seals are present.

  • Avoid areas where schools of fish are visible.

  • Avoid murky or low visibility water.

  • Limit splashing.

  • Adhere to all signage and flag warnings at beaches.

  • Follow instructions of the lifeguards.

Purple Flag

The purple flag flies to remind beach-goers that white sharks frequent the area.



Most white shark bite victims survive because of first aid initiated from bystanders. White shark bites generally result in massive hemorrhaging which requires immediate first aid in order to stop the blood loss.

Sign up for free ‘Stop the Bleed’ training and you could save a life. Contact your town to get info on the local training schedule.

You can visit ‘Stop the Bleed’ for more information on the training program.