With summer weather arriving in New Jersey, officials in Atlantic City and along the Jersey Shore are making a pitch for re-centering the area as a major tourist spot. Mayor Don Guardian said last week that the city will host Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Boyz II Men, Ricky Martin, Wanda Sykes and other high-profile celebrities this summer, and that at least 84 headliner concerts have been planned.
There might be one not-so-small interference with tourists’ inclination to enjoy the beach and splash around in the water, however: a 16-foot, 3,456-pound great white shark named Mary Lee spotted just 10 miles off the Jersey Coast.
“Cape May might be just the ticket after a long swim,” read a post on the shark’s Twitter account (since being tagged by scientists off Cape Cod in September of 2012, Mary Lee has gained quite a following online, having more than 41,000 Twitter followers as of mid-May).
Despite her popularity online, most people wouldn’t want to meet her in the water, and there’s been some speculation that tourists might stay away. Great white sharks are often spotted near the shore because that’s where they generally feed — preferably on seals or sea lions.
Of course, fears that tourism might suffer discount everything else the area has to offer, besides swimming. Many tourists choose to occupy a rental or some type of temporary housing while in New Jersey rather than a hotel so they can be on the beach, but with Mary Lee around, who knows where people will decide to reside during their visit.
And the Jersey Shore won’t need to worry about a negative impact on beach tourism for long. Though Mary Lee was cryptic on her Twitter page as to her ultimate destination — when Twitter follower Janet Kent asked just how far north she intended to swim, Mary Lee responded only “Where the boys are” — scientists have said she’ll probably be summering off of Cape Cod.
Fans can keep up with Mary Lee’s travels via her tracker, or interact more personally by following @MaryLeeShark on Twitter.