An increase in the number of great white sharks around Cape Cod has forced a longtime Massachusetts charity swim race to be rerouted.
Cape Cod National Seashore officials have denied a permit for the 32nd annual Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla. The race was originally slated to start off Long Point Beach in Provincetown Harbor.
Agency superintendent Brian Carlstrom says starting the race there isn't in line with the organization's "shark-smart" principles.
Carlstrom says the agency made the decision out of an abundance of caution.
"When you're out in the middle of the harbor... it's you and the water. Now because of the seals, there are a lot of seals out in the deep water — it's deep water right out by Long Point — and sharks you know are like seals so it's just gotten risky enough," founder of Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla Jay Critchley said.
"It is their world and I think their sea and I think we need to be respectful of that," said Jonathan Scott, a swimmer in the event for 20 years. "We have water everywhere so whatever route we come up with we're all going to be wet and we're all going to have fun and we're all going to raise money for the most important social services here in this town."
The rerouted Sept. 7 race will be closer to shore. Even though the exact details of the race are still being ironed out, Critchley says the new alternative will be better for newcomers.
"There are a lot of people who haven't done the swim across the harbor because they didn't feel they were capable or they were afraid so now they can swim along our alternate route. So it's perfect," Critchley said.
The state's first fatal shark attack in 80 years occurred last September off Cape Cod. Another man was seriously injured in an attack last August.