The safety of swimmers is the number one priority of the Swim for Life. It requires a coordinated effort from Swim medical personnel and the Provincetown Rescue Squad on shore, and kayakers, motorboats, the Harbormaster, US Coast Guard the Center for Coastal Studies and lifeguards on the water to ensure the safety of each and every swimmer. The event is required to submit a Marine Event permit application with the US Coast Guard that includes safety precautions and back up boats and kayaks to ensure swimmer support.
With the increased public awareness of the growing seal populations and the white sharks that prey upon them, the Provincetown Community Compact, sponsor of the Swim for Life, has teamed up with the Chatham-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Rex McKinsey, Provincetown Harbormaster, to increase public awareness of these creatures and assist in researching their behavior, movement and the range of their habitat. This follows The Compact’s mission of enhancing the well being of the community, connecting the economy, environment and the culture.
Last Sunday two receiver buoys were installed to assist in this research, one on the south side of Long Point, and one off the shore of Truro. While these receivers will only record the presence of a tagged white shark in the vicinity, as well as the identity of the shark, the recorded sitings are significant for long-term research purposes. These transmitters do not provide real time information but rather data for scientific analysis. Presently, 96 white sharks have been tagged.
The Compact recognizes there is a risk to swimmers, but the Swim follows the best scientific findings to date. Here is Provincetown Harbormaster’s Facebook posting: “Don’t swim, paddle or surf near or play with seals (and they bite); don’t swim or surf at dawn or dusk; don’t look like a seal (imagine what a surfer and board looks like from under water); stay in groups, and be vigilant”. A recent video by the Conservancy, National Park and the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries is available for viewing.
The Center for Coastal Studies, the Provincetown Harbormaster and the US Coast Guard will do a formal sweep of the harbor for shark sitings on the morning of the Swim for Life, September 10.
Lead sponsor of the Swim for Life is Seamen’s Bank; media sponsor is the Provincetown Banner. Also, Fanizzi’s Restaurant, the Lobster Pot Restaurant, Far Land Provisions, the Boatslip Beach Club, Harbor Hotel, the Crown & Anchor, Mussel Beach Health Club and Berta Walker Gallery. The event also receives support from the Provincetown Visitor Services Board.
The1.4-mile swim across Provincetown Harbor has raised $4M for AIDS, women’s health and the community. Organic, 100% cotton t-shirts designed by Bill Evaul are available for sale at Seamen’s Bank, downtown and at the AIDS Support Group store at 349 Commercial Street. The public is invited to greet the swimmers on the Boatslip deck on September 10 beginning at 11:00 am, followed by the Mermaid Brunch and awards ceremony.
TOP PHOTO: Harbormaster Rex McKinsey and Provincetown Community Compact director, Jay Critchley. Photo by Lise Balk King.