It started with the TV reports on great-white-shark sightings off Chatham, Massachusetts. A surging seal population, an after-effect of a storm, had attracted the apex predator. The research teams localized around the Cape, tagging the animals, and providing data on their whereabouts.
When Lisa Franz, executive director of the town’s Chamber of Commerce, started receiving calls from reporters as far away as Australia, the town saw the potential and rebranded itself as the “summer home of the great white.” Businesses joined in by creating shark-friendly merchandise and educating the community to sway public thinking.
In 2013 the town introduced “Sharks in the Park,” wherein artists created 56 shark statues. “Sharks in Shops” adorned local businesses with 48 smaller sculptures. Local bars with shark-themed drinks and scavenger hunts even joined in on the fun.
Franz's overarching goal was to educate the community about the sharks, and to resuscitate a town where residents must make a livable income. She envisioned a shark-research center capable of welcoming groups and engaging in university-level field studies. Thanks in large part to profits from Sharks in the Park, that center is scheduled to open in summer 2014.
Hey shark-lovers! Check out our Shark Of The Month and see if your favorite made the list!