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A plan to develop an acoustic system to chase away seals in order to prevent shark attacks is the latest front in the debate about how Cape Cod should respond in the wake of last year's shark attacks.
Deep Blue LLC presented the idea for an "invisible fence" to the Barnstable County Commissioners on Wednesday, drawing support from some officials and residents but concern from local animal rights groups.
Company - Owner - Willy - Planinshek - System
Company owner Willy Planinshek envisions a system of underwater audio devices set up at the region's most popular swimming beaches. The devices would be mounted on buoys some distance from the shore and emit a sound unpleasant to seals but inaudible to humans.
Planinshek believes that if seals are discouraged from the areas, the great white sharks that feast on them will also stay away.
Fence - Use - Dog - Property - Case
"We're creating an invisible fence like what use to keep your dog on your property," he said. "Except in this case, we're keeping other dogs out of the yard."
Commission members applauded the idea as a "proactive rather than reactive" solution, echoing a common criticism of shark safety proposals so far adopted by local officials. They asked the company to return in the fall to give an update on their progress developing the system.
Anything - Public - Confidence - Beaches - Commission
"Anything that would give the public more confidence in our beaches is important to us," said Commission Chair Ronald Bergstrom.
Two men were attacked—one fatally—by sharks off the Cape last summer.
Local - Animal - Rights - Activists - Solutions
Local animal rights activists said they support non-lethal solutions to the region's concerns but cautioned that such acoustic deterrent systems have failed elsewhere.
Seals have been found to make simple adjustments to cope with the noise emitted by the underwater devices, such as swimming with their head above water, said Sharon Young, a Cape Cod resident and marine issues field director for the Humane Society of the United States.
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