A 7-foot-long blue shark spotted multiple times off Front Beach in Rockport caused a scare, though officials said it turned out the shark may have just been seeking some medical assistance.
The first shark sighting report came into the Rockport harbormaster at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, forcing beachgoers out of the water, though the beach wasn’t closed.
Initial reports didn’t identify the type of shark, but it had come near swimmers.
“We weren’t sure what we were dealing with,” said Scott Story, a Rockport harbormaster.
Story and his colleague Rosemary Lesch, another Rockport harbormaster, looked for the shark from the beach but couldn’t find it and left.
Within an hour the shark was sighted again, and the harbormasters were again called to the beach. Again they were unable to sight it. The third time they did, Story said.
It turned out the shark was trying to dislodge a hook from its mouth near the rocks off Front Beach, and the harbormasters believed if they helped, the shark it might leave, Lesch said.
Story said he lassoed the shark onshore, removed the hook, and released it into the water.
The shark left, but returned within a half hour. The harbormasters said they decided to get the shark further from the beach, in hopes it would finally leave beachgoers alone.
“Scott got back in the water and lassoed it by the tail,” Lesch said. “We put it on the boat, went out a mile and a half, and it swam off.”
This time the shark didn’t return, they said.
“We hope it stays out of that area and hope it stays better,” Story said. “Time will tell.”
Blue sharks pose little risk to humans, said New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse.
“Blue sharks are exclusively fish eaters,” LaCasse said. “They eat squid as well.”
LaCasse emphasized, however, that any wildlife is unpredictable and people should be careful.
LaCasse said blue sharks are common on the North Shore, and agreed that it was likely the shark was close to shore because it was traumatized after it became hooked.
“It is likely the shark was in shock,” he said. “Its equilibrium was off.”