A state shark expert today spotted what appeared to be a great white shark in the waters off Cape Cod, prompting officials to warn boaters and swimmers to be cautious and to use good judgment when they hit the water over the holiday weekend.
Is something like this lurking off Chatham?
Greg Skomal, the expert with the Division of Marine Fisheries, was able to locate the animal off the eastern coast of Monomoy Island, which is off Chatham, and determined it was "very likely" a great white shark, said Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
After state officials received reports of several large sharks in the area, Skomal spotted five large sharks from the air Thursday. He got aboard a boat today hoping to get a closer look and identify what species they were with the help of a spotter pilot. He found the one shark, but fog and cloud cover rolled in, depriving him of the help of the pilot, and he couldn't find any more.
Capone said that an Environmental Police boat would patrol the area today, Saturday, and Sunday.
Authorities in Chatham on Thursday urged swimmers to be careful while cooling off in the waters off the town.
"While it is rare for a shark to strike and attack a human in the water, it can happen and given the recent local shark sightings, swimmers should exercise caution while swimming in Chatham's ocean waters. In particular, people should avoid swimming in waters in the direct proximity of seals where sharks may be in search of prey," the town's harbormaster and parks and recreation director said in a statement.
The statement said there have been "recent confirmed reports of sharks feeding on seals" in the area. On Aug. 28, the carcass of a seal was confirmed to have been partly eaten by a large shark, the statement said.
Two kayakers paddling off of Chatham on Aug. 15 reported that they saw a possible attack by a great white shark on a seal. A large fin protruded about a foot from the water as the bloodied seal frantically jumped out of the water. Skomal said it was a credible report.
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