5 shark safety tips to minimize your risk of an attack at the beach

A woman walks with her dogs at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, where a boogie boarder was bitten by a shark in 2018 and later died of his injuries. (Charles Krupa/AP)
A woman walks with her dogs at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, where a boogie boarder was bitten by a shark in 2018 and later died of his injuries. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Want something to look forward to when the skies clear? The Northern Lights are coming to New England this week, and some experts say the geomagnetic storm may even be visible “low on the horizon” from Boston starting Wednesday. However, you’ll probably want to find somewhere with less light pollution (and higher elevation) to give yourself the best chance of seeing the aurora.

Check out this tip sheet for more. And send us your photos if you do see them, because the best viewing hours are really pushing up against this morning newsletter writer’s bedtime.

Now, to the news:

Shark Week doesn’t start until later this month, but our toothy friends are already making headlines up and down the East Coast. Multiple apparent attacks closed beaches last week in New York. And there have been sightings as far north as Maine. But local wildlife officials stress that a fear of sharks should not keep you away from the beach (or the water) this summer. Attacks are very rare. And if you follow these five simple tips from the Cape Cod National Seashore’s Linzy French, you can reduce that low risk even further:

  1. Never swim near seals. (That’s shark food.)
  2. Avoid murky or low visibility water.
  3. Don’t swim alone or away from others.
  4. Limit your splashing, which attracts sharks.
  5. Be visible to lifeguards. “Stay close to shore where rescuers can reach you and always listen to the lifeguards and pay attention to signage and flag warnings,” French said.

Speaking of beaches: Seventy beaches across Massachusetts have been forced to close for swimming, but not because of sharks. The reason: bacteria. The state’s Department of Public Health says it closes beaches if there are high levels of the bacteria for two days in a row. That led to “no swimming” signs at popular spots like Revere Beach last week.

  • ICYMI: WBUR’s Ally Jarmanning explained here why heavy rains often lead to higher bacteria levels and beach closures.
  • Read the full list: While some beaches have since gotten the green light to reopen, you can read the full list of freshwater and ocean beaches with “unsafe” water quality on the state’s website.

Get ready to see the real delays from the Sumner Tunnel closure hit. After a week during which some travelers complained their trips to the airport were too fast, Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said the relative smooth-going during the first few days of the closure may be over. “Last week was an extremely light traffic week,” Gulliver said. “It was the holiday week, people were on vacation, impacts were pretty minor. We expect that to really increase over the next few weeks as those travelers come back.”

  • Not just the North Shore: Gulliver says commuters from all directions — Mass Pike, 93, Southeast Expressway — should expect traffic to get worse, due the “domino effect” of the backups.
  • If you were on vacation last week: The Sumner — which runs downtown from East Boston and Logan Airport — is fully closed through the end of August. To get around it, officials have made the entire Blue Line free and are providing discounted commuter rail and ferry service. Here’s our full guide to getting around it.

Some good news for the North Shore: Parking meters in Salem are now free for anyone with a veteran license plate. The city made the change last week after a Purple Heart recipient got two parking tickets in a short amount of time.

  • The deets: The free parking includes any city-owned parking lot, but not garages. Veterans also still have to follow other parking rules, like time limits. Find more details on Salem’s website.

P.S.— Shout out to our local professional rugby team, the New England Free Jacks, for taking home their first Major League Rugby title this weekend. The upset victory over San Diego came on a last-minute game-winning try. You can watch the video here.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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