Second Cape Cod Seal Attack: Eyewitness Says It WAS A Great White Shark.

******UPDATE August 10, 2007: Officials Confirm Today What We Already Knew!*****************

Many readers, including several Cape Cod residents have been kind enough to comment on the seal attack off North Nauset beach on August 4. Some in various linked forums and some on this site. There have been enough that it seems appropriate to reproduce them in a separate article.

Read this chiller from Tori:

Posted August 8, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I was witness to the shark sighting Saturday august 4th. I have not one doubt in my mind that what I saw was a great white shark. It breached out of the water, I could see it clearly, other species of sharks just don’t do that. It seems to me that the beach officials are taking this way too lightly considering the large number of witnesses who saw the attack. In fact, they haven’t even confirmed this as a shark attack yet despite the evidence that washed up on shore hours later (the mangled seal). It concerns me that a great white was hunting in the same exact depth of water, and area that beachgoers are swimming in.

The Beast is attempting to get more details on this.

Captain Tom – a local who runs his own web site on New England Sharks had this to say in forum:

If you want to know more about white sharks in New England go to my website

I will be back to this thread tomorrow night after fishing offshore tomorrow. I should have some info on this sighting from a friend who investigates these things for a Govt. agency. He talked to me today and is being sent the pictures for analysis.

Pictures? That would rock. The Beast is also angling for a couple of those and will keep you updated. No word yet from the Captain on how the fishing went.

Also in forum, sig226 – who lives nearby said:

We had a house in Dennis and a small outboard. We saw plenty of black tips in the bay, 10 to 15 feet long. We could estimate them pretty well by the length of our boat.

Yes, this seems to be shark season out there in the warm summertime waters of the cape. Perhaps bathers should be told?

Finally, local surfer Jack weighs in with sightings of his own:

Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:11 pm

I was surfing some amazing waves friday night one day before the attack at the point of north beach in chatham around dusk. I travel back and forth on a small inflatable motorized zodiac. On the way home my girlfriend and i noticed a shape on the ocean side on the island that didnt look quite like a seal it had a very pointed head and appeared much bigger than a large bull seal. actualy we were sure it wasnt a seal. im really not surprized after all almost every summer i can remember there has been some sort of shark incident in that area.

Jack may have spotted one or more of the Whites who appear to take up residence in his seal-laden waters this time of year. He continues to surf but perhaps with a little less sang-froid.

It is important to note that The Beast’s original story on this predation event attracted over 1,500 reads so far. Why are people flocking to this little blog to get their information? Because nobody else in the MSM is furnishing it. This is not unusual – local news outlets and beach communities are very reluctant to explore shark attacks because it hurts business. These stories get dumped quickly – note Torie’s earlier comment “…they haven’t even confirmed this as a shark attack yet…”.

And yet, the northeast coast is hardly what one would consider fallow water for shark attacks. Massachusetts averages about one every century. Our coastline is shallow and marine mammal population (White Shark’s favorite food) tends to hang out well offshore. Also, not much is known about the habits of Atlantic Whites – they are a much more elusive group than their cousins in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. However if one goes by the raw attack rate it can be safely inferred that they tend to be much less “bitey”.

One final anecdote – several weeks ago the Beast went fishing with a young man who also surfs up here off the New Hampshire Seacoast (about seventy miles north of Chatham as the crow flies.) He said that the previous day he and a friend were floating off the Wallis Sands beach in Rye around sunset on their boards. It was somewhat foggy and humid – the swells had died and water visibility was poor at around 3-5 feet. Suddenly they were both struck by what surfers call “That Sharky Feeling”. They just knew they were not alone. Neither wanted to alarm the other or be the first to speak so they just sat there for a while, scanning the surrounding water. finally his friend spoke up and said “Umm…Rory what do you see out there?”

Rory said – “I keep seeing a big head poking out of the water here and there around us.”

They went in.

Thanks, again to those who took the time to share their stories with us and have fun out there in the water.

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9 Comments

  1. Angela
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    While I don’t live in MA, I think the officials are just trying to prevent hysteria. Fortunately, the general population is more educated that the population of the JAWS movie, but there are still some people who believe that the answer is to hunt down the animal and kill it. Great Whites are one of the most commonly known sharks to the general population, and especially thanks to JAWS, get the blame for almost every shark attack. It’s possible it was another shark. Great Whites aren’t the only shark who hunt seals, and their ability to leap out of water comes from adapting to being able to catch their prey, so I’m sure other sharks have developed that ability too.

    The most important thing though is not the species of the shark, but by promoting awareness. Everytime you go into the ocean, you place yourself at risk. Not just from sharks, but jellyfish, stingrays, and other animals. There isn’t anything we can do really to prevent incidents from happening. It’s the same with camping, or hunting. You take the risk of coming across something dangerous. It’s wrong of us to destroy something just because it’s more convienient for us. If you notice, the time of the attack was close to dark. Sharks hunt closer to shore the darker it gets. That’s the reason you’re told not to go into water after dark. Also, stay out of the water if it’s foggy or the water is muggy. Sharks love to hunt in those waters too. Just remember simple rule such as those, always go into the water with a buddy, stay alert, and never panick. Sharks, just like any other animal, can sense fear, so it’s important to stay calm.

  2. Posted August 9, 2007 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Great Whites get the blame for attacks because they attack people. They are one of the top four maneaters, second only to the Bull Shark. That’s fact. They don’t – as you said – get the blame for every shark attack, but they do get blamed for some.

    You cite camping as an outdoor activity that entails risk – if a bear or mountain lion eats a camper,what do they do with it?

    There are things we can do to prevent White sharks attacking seals in bathing areas – we can regain control over the seal population and manage them just as we do other species. Before the seals overpopulated in Chatham (over 10,000 there right now, fouling the water with waste poducts) whites were not a problem. Crop back the population – whites go away.Simple and responsible game management.

    Perhaps you read Torie’s comment? She is certain it was a white – she saw it breach! That’s kinda hard to miss – white shark attacks on seals are very violent and extroverted.

    Finally, what kind of hysteria are you expecting? Fact is, if a particular beach is experiencing white shark predation events regularly at a certain time of year, don’t bathers have a right to know that? If they know, they can choose to do something about it – either go to that beach and be vigilant or maybe go to some other beach that does not have that problem. There are no shortage of beaches, after all.

    If it is any consolation, the Beast is going fishing tonight and intends to wade out chest deep into the night surf and throw hunks of bloody herring across a sandbar til dawn. He is fishing seapoint beach in Kittery Maine, a place one of his friends walks his dog every day and told him just a few hours ago:

    “Dude, every day this month when walk there I see little seals washed up on the sand with HUGE bites taken out of em!”

    Wish us luck….

  3. frothingatlemouse
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Holy moly. We just watched Shark Week.

  4. Posted August 9, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Frothy

    We got it out here for real apparently. If The Beast gets et somebody will post it so you know.

  5. Posted August 10, 2007 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps if you season yourself with something distasteful they’ll leave you alone.

  6. Posted August 10, 2007 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Kim,

    Caught one striper and a ton of shad herring which I chunked and threw back into the water to start a nice oily blood trail, hoping it would draw in fish.

    It didn’t. But I did come home stinking of fish – which I found distasteful enough.

  7. pete
    Posted September 1, 2007 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    I definetely fear sharks, but i have swam in orleans outer beach. After the shark attack accounts were reported. Scary no doubt a shark is scary, but they have always been there, just be weary, and always look at whats coming at you.

  8. d mack
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I am surfer who saw a great white off while surfing in Wellfleet’s Newcomb’s Hollow Beach in early October 2006. The shark breached to grab a seal 500-600 yards off shore. I happened to see it because I was watching the commotion of birds hovering and diving amidst a feeding frenzy, enjoying the early fall sunset lighting glancing on the white brids against the gray clouds. The shark was easily 12-15 feet long, perhaps longer, with obvious dorsal fin. While I had only a glance, it could only be a few species and whites are the main suspect. As a surfer I am constantly sharing the water with seals, aka shark snacks, so I am not surprised hungry sharks are there. My biggest surprise is that there are not more sharks, more sightings and more attacks. But I do not wish for any of that.

  9. pete
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    i was on a long board at the outer beach nauset.im an inexperienced surfer.hangin with bro in law,see a large dark shape swimming towards me.no idea what it might be.a couple of thoughts came to mind.im kind of freakin out,but what are you gonna do?it swam past and emerged about 8 feet from me.the biggest seal id ever seen.scared the shit out of me.i paddeled in.


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