PROVINCETOWN — The hot news on the waterfront this week is that the seals are back, and so are the white sharks. A gray seal with a rather large shark bite washed up on an East End beach on Saturday.
Last week we started to see seals showing up at the usual places, such as Long Point and Horseshoe Cove, and now we have clear evidence of predation. Forewarned is forearmed. This is the new norm, and we should all be respectful of their environment to keep ourselves safe.
Many of us saw a strange sight in our inner harbor this week. Schools of pufferfish were swimming around the docks. Not typically seen in waters this far north, they were in schools of a dozen or so. Important: these fish are extremely toxic to consume.
Pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them potentially lethal. Tetrodotoxin is more poisonous than cyanide. There is enough toxin in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans. There is no known antidote to this toxin, either, so if you catch one, throw it back.
It is horseshoe crab mating season now in our waters, and coupled crabs can be seen all along our beaches doing what they do to propagate their species. Horseshoe crab blood is extremely valuable to medical science. The crabs’ copper-rich blue blood clots in the presence of bacterial endotoxins and is used in tests to detect the presence of contaminates in vaccines and infusions, and in other medical applications. It’s expensive: $15,000 a quart.
Fishing for striped bass has greatly improved this week, as keeper-size fish showed up from Wood End to Race Point. The inner harbor is also awash in smaller “schoolie”-size stripers. Live lining mackerel and casting swimming plugs and metal jigs are most effective.
Mackerel are very thick up in Horseshoe Cove as well as at Long Point. Water temperatures are still fairly cold for this late in the spring, so things have been slow to develop so far. But I am hearing reports of “best bluefishing in many years” coming from Long Island Sound tackle stores, so let’s hope we can say that as well in a few weeks.
There has been a fair amount of confusion about what’s being allowed on our waterfront this summer, thanks to the local news media. (“Virus fears prompt ‘no whale watch’ order,” was one of the misleading headlines, in the Cape Codder, last week.)
To be clear, the Dolphin Fleet can and will resume whale watch tours with the arrival of phase three, most likely on June 29. Six-passenger charter fishing boats, as well as party fishing boats, may operate in phase two, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines and limit capacity to 10 passengers plus crew.
As for boat launch ramp regulations, they are open to vehicles and boats legally registered in Massachusetts. You must launch quickly, adhering to social distancing guidelines, with no loitering allowed. The Provincetown Marina is open for business with all gathering areas temporarily closed and a strict limit on how many people may occupy the restrooms and offices. Launch boats will also be limiting how many passengers they may pick up at once, and the fuel dock is open with one boat at a time allowed in to fuel up.