At least two great white sharks have been sighted not far from where the terrifying shark attack film "Jaws" was filmed off the US East Coast.

While the news led to a precautionary notice from one local official, some tourists are travelling to the area in the hope of seeing the predators.

The city of Chatham in the affluent beach resort of Cade Cod has barred swimming within 300 feet (100 meters) of seals, a favorite food of the predatory fish.

Chatham harbormaster Stuart said his office has been notified of seal carcasses apparently attacked by sharks found along the eastern shore.

"At this time, the town of Chatham is not closing our east-facing beaches to swimming in its entirety, but simply suggesting that beachgoers, mariners and swimmers pay close attention to their surroundings while in the water and to not venture too far from shore," Smith said in a statement to local media.

The Cape Cod Shark Hunters, a group that conducts research with scientists from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said it had spotted two sharks on July 3.

Photographs showed one of the big fish swimming in shallow waters just off the coast. One of the sharks was 16 feet (five meters) long.

The group sighted at least three other great whites the previous week.

But the researchers stressed that despite their huge size, razor-sharp teeth and beady black eyes, the white sharks are not the blood-thirsty beasts Hollywood makes them out to be.

Shark spotters saw at least half a dozen sharks in the area last year alone, a number set to increase in light of the abundance of seals on site.

Several Chatham beaches were closed last year due to the proliferation of sharks.

Chatham has the same kind of peaceful setting as the 1975 Steven Spielberg film, which some have blamed for Americans' outsized fears of sharks.

But for now, the big predators, fascinating both on and off the screen, are a boon for tourism.

"It is very good for business," Keith Lincoln, who operates the Monomoy Island Ferry-Rip Ryder, told NECN television.

"That is the craze right now, everybody wants to see the great whites."

[Shark breaching via]