Is shark activity becoming a tourist attraction in Cape Town?

It’s been a busy week for shark activity on Cape Town during ‘Shark Week’. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app was receiving numerous alerts for tagged sharks off the Outer Cape. The peak of the great white shark season is just beginning along the Cape.

Coastal Cape Cod has driven tourism for decades, but in recent years what’s in the water has become a big draw. Shark merchandise from Livin EZ in downtown Hyannis lines the wall. A store employee admits he’s never seen “Jaws” show us the shirts they sell. “You’re going to need a bigger boat. I’m pretty sure it’s like the line from the movie,” the store clerk said. Employee says they sold a lot of shark stuff. “This one is $25,” the employee said.

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce general manager Paul Niedzwiecki says the companies have really looked into the world of sharks. “There is a lot of merchandise, sharks have become part of Cape Town’s commercial culture. And this summer, we have seen unprecedented crowds. There are more people in Cape Town this summer than there have ever been in history,” said Niedzwiecki. The Chamber says people have bitten. “They had a fascination and curiosity about Cape Town that was really channeled into learning more about these amazing animals,” Niedzwiecki said.

We’ve spoken to people vacationing in Cape Town about why they believe sharks have been so fascinating in recent years. “They’re cool and scary as hell,” one woman said. Samantha Merwin and her son, Saige, are from Connecticut. “It seems to fit with Cape Town, okay, because by the sea. Sharks, whales. Something you expect to see here,” Merwin said. “It’s mostly just fear. Fear of sharks. And that’s what motivates many. I mean, you don’t see people freaking out if a Cod shows up,” his son said.

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