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Cape Cod Shark Sightings Spawn Tourist Frenzy

An uptick in shark sightings off Cape Code is chum in the water for tourists.

Instead of harpoons, a surge in shark sightings off Cape Cod has tourists reaching for their credit cards. For example, shark apparel sales have grown 500 percent at the Cape Cod Beach Chair company, one of several local business owners cashing in on the tourism boom. Shark sightings off the coast have gone from two per year before 2004 to over 20. They're following the seals, experts say, which have grown in number because of conservation efforts. Despite their image as bloodthirsty killers of the sea, fixed in the popular consciousness because of movies like "Jaws" and the annual TV "Shark Week," there have only been 13 fatal unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. since 1916. Local officials are still wary of the damage to tourism if there's even one nibble, however, and have distributed brochures warning visitors not to hang out where they see families of seals.



- The Associated Press and NBC News Staff