A new brochure is being distributed around Cape Cod warning people about the possibility of sharks, but residents feel the move went one step too far.
"The cover has an extra-mean, toothy picture of a shark," Richard Delaney of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown told the Cape Cod Times. "It's one more example of how we, as a society, have this general myth that these guys are big, nasty creatures."
Some 415,000 brochures were printed with $22,500 from the state Community Innovation Challenge program as part of a campaign to raise awareness of sharks and educate the public about safe practices in case they do see a shark, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Shark sightings have become more common in Cape waters recently, drawn by a booming seal population, and one man was even bitten in summer 2012.
Nathan Sears, a natural resources manager for Orleans, a group involved in the campaign, told the Cape Cod Times that the brochure doesn't mean any harm.
"We're just trying to raise public awareness," he said. "It's the reality of what's happening in our ocean at the moment. From a management perspective, making the public aware of the situation is our biggest tool."
Despite the good intentions, "At first glance, it seems more like a warning than an informational pamphlet," Jeremy Gingras, executive director of the Harwich Chamber of Commerce, noted.
Aside from the "Jaws"-esque cover picture, Delaney added that he would especially remove one sentence in particular communicating that the only way to avoid a shark attack is to completely stay out of the water.
"It may have gone a little too far by saying don't go in the water," he said.
With sharks on the brain, the pamphlet could either serve its purpose or backfire.
"The reality is, we have sharks, and there has to be some public information campaign," Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross concluded. "On the flip side, there's concern that sharks will be sensationalized or people will want to go on shark hunts."
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