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TowBoatUS Provincetown: Your Breakdown Escape In Shark Country

Captain Noah Santos and his crew are there to assist Cape Cod boaters, sharks or not.

Adult male in wearing a baseball hat, black sun glasses and red life jacket in the cockpit of a vessel.

TowBoatU.S. Provincetown owner and captain Noah Santos in the cockpit of one of the vessels in his fleet.

Cue the “Jaws” theme in your mind and picture this: A menacing fin circles a floating, partially eaten whale carcass just feet off your stern. TowBoatU.S. Provincetown owner and captain Noah Santos caught this encounter on video earlier this year and says scenes like that are nothing unusual for this area off Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

“There’s a large population of great white sharks here, the most in the world,” says Santos, who has owned TowBoatU.S. Provincetown for 13 years. Before that, he worked at a local marina and recovered vessels on the side, towing in boats when the Coast Guard was too busy. When TowBoatU.S. approached him about establishing a port in his hometown, he accepted. Today, Santos owns the Provincetown port as well as TowBoatU.S. Bass River and TowBoatU.S. Chatham on the southern and eastern parts of the cape, respectively.

Still picture from a video showing sharks in open waters stalking carcass of dead whale.

Pictured is a still from a video caught by Santos where sharks stalked the carcass of a dead whale off Cape Cod.

“Here we are, five boats later,” Santos laughs as we stand in the cockpit of his boat, riding out to see if we can find a scene like the one he captured on video – which then went viral on social media with more than 2 million views.

Santos says one of the unique challenges to boating in the area is a tide that swings between 9 and 13 feet, and the area around Cape Cod is one of the largest shipwreck areas in the world for a reason. “It’s a very challenging area,” he says. “It’s also the Atlantic, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s open ocean.”

Santos says the number of great white sharks may be attributed to an influx of seals in the area. And while there is a large shark population, he says there aren’t issues between vessels and sharks as depicted in movies. Although swimming in the area is not recommended – unless you have a shark cage that you can dive in, which Santos does.

We didn’t find any sharks on our journey. What was revealed, however, was the distinct duality of the area. It may be dangerous, but it’s so beautiful.

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Morgan White

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine