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Cape Cod Summer Forecast: Great White Sharks

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Cape Cod, the popular summer weekend retreat for the greater-Boston area (if not all New England) is probably best known for its beaches, lobster and collegiate baseball league. Too often overlooked is its other claim to fame: sharks. Remember, it was this area that used as a setting for the Jaws movies, and if early indications are correct, there could be an unplanned fifth installment of the series this summer.

Because of warmer ocean waters (ranging in the shark-ideal range from 59 to 67 degrees) and a "massive increase" in the gray seal population (a choice snack for sharks), the Cape is becoming a popular hang out for great white sharks. Chatham already had to close five of its beaches over Labor Day weekend because of great whites in the waters.

"It's definitely a concern,'' Horna said. "They're hungry, seal is their main diet, and they're coming in to have a nice meal.''

Chatham closed five beaches on Labor Day weekend after great whites came near the Lighthouse Beach swimming area.

Skomal concurred that the rebounding seal population is most likely attracting traditional predators, including great whites, to feed on them closer to shore.

Officials are saying there is no cause for concern -- "We don't believe it's a threat to public safety,'' Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles said -- but they are still advising people to use "common sense while swimming." So far though, there have been no requests for a bigger boat.