Great White Surge Means Big Bucks for Cape Cod Town

Apparently Chatham tourists are not scared of Jaws

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 21, 2014 1:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Don’t cue the Jaws theme song just yet. In Chatham, Mass., "cha-ching" is more appropriate. People are flocking to the classy Cape Cod town thanks to an increase in great white shark sightings, and local businesses are making lots of money off the phenomenon, the AP reports. T-shirts, hoodies, belts, hats, dog collars, jewelry, candy, even stuffed animals—if you can stick a shark on it, Chatham businesspeople will make it and sell it to tourists for $10 to $45. Thanks to the man-eating fish, one businessman claims a 500% increase in shark souvenir sales. Twenty or more shark sightings a year have been reported in the past few years; before 2004, that number was typically fewer than two.

But unlike Jaws—which is playing, of course, at local theaters—these sharks aren’t coming to Cape Cod to eat people, just gray seals. The tourists flock to see said seals on boat tours … in the hopes of seeing a shark, too. "White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention,” says one expert. Though the sharks aren't seen as a big threat to Cape Cod tourists, the Chamber of Commerce is urging some common sense: “If (people) go to the beach and they see a family of seals there, that's probably not the best place to hang out," says the CEO.

In this July 2, 2014 photo, a bin is filled with plastic toy sharks in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a bin is filled with plastic toy sharks in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, an eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, an eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, Molly Saint-James, of Baltimore, right, helps her daughters Ellie McDonald, left, 6, and Poppy McDonald, 3, use telescopic viewers overlooking a beach while on vacation in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, Molly Saint-James, of Baltimore, right, helps her daughters Ellie McDonald, left, 6, and Poppy McDonald, 3, use telescopic viewers overlooking a beach while on vacation in...   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, Jennifer Eldredge, of Harwich, Mass., examines shark-themed clothing at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, Jennifer Eldredge, of Harwich, Mass., examines shark-themed clothing at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, vacationer Mark McCurdy, of Everett, Mass., examines shark-themed clothing at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, vacationer Mark McCurdy, of Everett, Mass., examines shark-themed clothing at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a T-shirt with a likeness of a shark incorporating an American flag rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a T-shirt with a likeness of a shark incorporating an American flag rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a bottle opener in the likeness of a shark hangs from a hook in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a bottle opener in the likeness of a shark hangs from a hook in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a painting of a shark is on display in a shop window in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, a painting of a shark is on display in a shop window in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this July 2, 2014 photo, shark-themed clothing is on display at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.
In this July 2, 2014 photo, shark-themed clothing is on display at the Chatham Clothing Bar in Chatham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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