Snacks from the sea: How a shark is motivating a Jersey town to be more accommodating to tourism

Nobody gets blamed for harassment of marine life. You can blame, for example, a school of hunting dolphins and a dead harbor seal for putting the town of Ocean City on the map as…

Snacks from the sea: How a shark is motivating a Jersey town to be more accommodating to tourism

Nobody gets blamed for harassment of marine life. You can blame, for example, a school of hunting dolphins and a dead harbor seal for putting the town of Ocean City on the map as a resort of epic seaside indulgence. And, of course, the locals love seeing that tale portrayed on television.

No, the D.C. area’s fishing-town movie stars have always been migratory fish and divers who just don’t leave their stingrays alone. But they’re leaving Ocean City, N.J., now, and it’s going to be very hard to find a reason why the fishing town can’t bear to cooperate with the town of Dover, Del., which is taking the form of a shop offering to “feed” the aquarium’s docile, smelly star attraction, the dazzling baby whale shark.

Dover and Ocean City are adjacent, and in both communities whale sharks are a recent phenomenon. At Ocean City, they’ve become mainstream attractions at parks, beaches and restaurants that display the terrifically smooth-looking beasts. For the most part, that’s where their story ends: Now that the swimsuit season is over, locals and visitors go home.

It’s been a different story in Dover, where residents of the 600-resident hamlet have converged on Fisherman’s Wharf to watch that state-of-the-art facility brag about what it has accomplished in the six months since it began feeding the baby whale shark. Visitors to the array of exhibits have come looking for a glimpse at a live whale shark — and ended up not only seeing the fat and flabby morsel, but eating it, too.

Weird.

This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

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