We spent a great week in Cape Cod at the end of the summer. You know how we Philadelphians revel in “Rocky” being filmed here? Well, in Cape Cod, they’ve got “Jaws.”
Every time we were near water at the Cape, we were warned of the danger of a shark attack.
At the entrance of one of the beaches is a full color poster of a menacing shark, baring its sharp teeth, thrashing in its element. The poster states:
BE SHARK AWARE!
WARNING Great White Sharks are known to hunt in these waters.
KNOW YOUR RISK WHEN ENTERING THE WATER.
CALL 9-1-1 FOR EMERGENCIES!
To further emphasize the point, mounted on a beach post is a specialized first aid kit, bright orange, heavy duty plastic with the sign — SEVERE BLEEDING FIRST AID KIT FOR SHARK ATTACKS. CALL 9-1-1.
All across the towns of Cape Cod and its surrounding islands (like Nantucket), the Massachusetts Shark Research Program and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have worked together to produce a huge public service campaign to warn swimmers about shark attacks.
They have implemented beach signage, a flag warning system, information brochures, a “shark smart” video to raise awareness — and because yes, there’s an app for that — the Sharktivity App urges all visitors and residents to download a tracker on their phones to be alerted when danger is near.
Some towns on the Cape use drones to spot sharks, install buoys, make medical supplies available on the beach, and offer “stop the bleed” medical instructions to the public. One town is even looking to hire a harbor master patrol boat to guard during sponsored youth swim lessons.
All this shark awareness is because there have officially been 15 reported shark attacks in Massachusetts since 1837. That would be 15 attacks in 184 years.
All this shark awareness is because there have officially been 15 reported shark attacks in Massachusetts since 1837.
In 2016, there was a fatal shark attack of a boogie-boarder in Wellfleet. It was the first such death in 82 years.
Statistically, a shark attack occurs every 730 million visits up in Cape Cod, which means there is actually a one in a billion chance of a visitor getting attacked by one.
And yet, the powers that be make sure residents and visitors alike are forewarned about shark attacks before they even dip their toes in the water. That’s how Cape Cod protects people.
Could you imagine if the City of Philadelphia had the same common sense and obligation?
We don’t have a shark problem that kills one person in 82 years.
No, we have a gun problem. As of this writing, we’re north of 450 homicides this year so far, and on pace to surge past 500, a record in our city.
Maybe we are simply immune to the gun deaths and gun violence. Like cockroaches in a nuclear war, it doesn’t faze Philadelphians, and we adapt to this deadly environment. We react to yet another gunshot death the way we react to our sports teams sinking or national chains bastardizing the cheesesteak: we simply do the “Philly Shrug.”
But maybe we have to look at gunshot deaths like the Cape looks at shark attacks. Just try thinking of them that way.
Can you imagine if we were to look back at 2020, there were 500 people shredded to death in Philadelphia by sharks, from over 2,000 attacks where people lost arms, legs, and blood? We’d be on every national news show with the headline: Philly Has a Shark Problem! Instead of drug needle deposit boxes in our parks, we’d install tourniquet kits.
Can you imagine if we were to look back at 2020, there were 500 people shredded to death in Philadelphia by sharks, from over 2,000 attacks where people lost arms, legs, and blood?
Maybe Mayor Jim Kenney would finally call in the National Guard to protect Philadelphians and its visitors from sharks killing us and wounding us daily.
Just like residents on the Cape are alerted not to go in the water, Philadelphians would be warned not to go near SEPTA stations, cheesesteak shops or any rec center or playground.
And when the next shark attack happens, Mayor Kenney and his administration would gather for a press conference to offer their prayers to the family of the victim. He would point to the Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus statues, explaining that the sharks felt threatened by two dead Italians, and his removal of these statues will make the sharks feel safer in the city to stop the bloodshed.
He will once again say for the 500th time, “Once again our city has been rocked by senseless shark violence…. “
And our District Attorney Larry Krasner would plead with sharks that have attacked and killed Philadelphians to give his office a call. They could be back in their local waters again before their court case.
But soon enough, another kid playing kickball at Jerome Brown Playground in West Philadelphia would be the newest victim.
And maybe, just maybe the mothers of one of these 500-plus attack victims would finally approach Kenney and give him what one mourning mother in “Jaws” gave to the negligent police chief on the day of her son’s funeral: a stinging slap to the face, because he knew there was danger in the water, and he let people swim anyway.
When is our city finally going to stop these killers?
When is our city going to start protecting us and prevent these deaths and attacks?
When, oh when, are we going to get a bigger boat?
Until then, every week will be Shark Week in Philadelphia.
Patty-Pat Kozlowski’s favorite Jaws quote is, “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow legged women!” Yopattypat@gmail.com