fb-pixel Skip to main content

Shark threat forces rerouting of charity swim in Provincetown

The Provincetown Swim For Life has been held every year since 1988.
The Provincetown Swim For Life has been held every year since 1988. handout

A charity swimming event in Provincetown Harbor has been rerouted due to the increased presence of white sharks.

The 32nd annual Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla, which used to start at Long Point, will be moved closer to the shore this year, according to a statement posted on the event website.

“After thirty-one years swimming across Provincetown Harbor from Long Point to the Boatslip, the annual Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla is changing course,” officials said in the statement. “The appearance of white sharks due to the increased seal population has created concern for swimmer safety in the deep waters off Long Point. For this reason, the course of this important Provincetown tradition and fundraiser will move closer to the town’s shoreline. Walkers will be invited to participate as well. The tides will require the shoreline swim and walk to begin earlier, with details to be announced shortly.”

Organizers said the change was necessary after Cape Cod National Seashore officials denied the permit for the Sept. 7 event to start at Long Point.


Ryan Wright, the acting chief ranger for the Cape Cod National Seashore, said the decision was made due to increased seal activity in the area and the fact that splashing can attract sharks.

“It’s really out of an abundance of caution,” he said.

Organizers of the event say they’re committed to swimmer safety and have been monitoring the situation for several years now.

“The Swim was created to honor the pristine harbor, which is the lifeblood of the town,” said Jay Critchley, director of the Provincetown Community Compact, the nonprofit that sponsors the Swim for Life, said in a statement on the website. “The increased presence of seals and sharks in our waters is a harbinger of changes in the environment. And swimmer safety is paramount. These changes continue our celebration of the harbor’s ecology. This is about the resilience of the Swim, the community and the planet.” Critchley said that in conjunction with the Provincetown Harbor swim on Sept. 7, there will also be a freshwater swim in Great Pond in Wellfleet, pending town approval.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.