BARNSTABLE, Mass (WBZ NewsRadio) — What's being touted as a simple idea would seem to be anything but straightforward. A company proposed using underwater sounds of orcas to keep seals, and the sharks that feed on them, away from Cape Cod was floated to the Barnstable Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.
The Cape has seen a rising number of Great White shark sightings and encounters. But are killer whales the answer?
“Great whites are deathly afraid of orcas,” said Willy Planinshek, an entrepreneur who presented the idea. Planinshek also predicts that a 20 percent rise in the seal population will directly translate to an equal rise in Great White shark numbers.
For all the talk of big scary underwater mammals, there was also what Barnstable Board of Commissioners chairman Ronald Bergstrom called the elephant in the room: the Marine Mammal Protection Act, enacted in 1972, prohibits activities that could impact marine life. According to Bergstorm, an acoustic deterrent would violate the act. But, Planinshek disagrees.
“Because we are not harming the animals, so we're not stepping on the MNPA,” Planinshek said. The act offers exceptions for human safety and scientific research, according to Planinshek.
However, marine researcher Sharon Young told the board that acoustic deterrents simply don't work in changing animal behavior.
“Animals get used to sound, and eventually ignore it,” Young said.
Wellfleet resident and activist John Katsounis insisted sharks are a big problem, and said NGOs are putting the interests of "predatory fish" over that of human life. He believes marine researchers aren't giving the public the full story.
Planinshek told WBZ NewsRadio that he is undeterred. He said that he plans on going hunting for funding for the proposal.
Board members said that they'll support any legal and workable solution to what Bergstrom called an immediate crisis
WBZ NewsRadio’s Kendal Buhl (@KBuhlWBZ) reports