Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff
CHATHAM -- Town officials in Chatham have closed five miles of beach after a spotter pilot saw three more great white sharks today, including one that was lurking in the water only 100 yards from a party on the sand.
Harbormaster Stuart Smith said isolated South Beach just south of popular Lighthouse would be closed to swimming indefinitely.
The tipping point, he said, was the sighting of the three sharks.
"Based on these sightings -- and it's kind of interesting that they're in the same area where the sharks were tagged last year -- so based on that accumulation of information, we're going to close South Beach in Chatham to swimming," he said.
South Beach, he said, is "remote and rural but it's popular."
A Globe reporter and photographer were aboard the plane during the sightings, which occurred over two different flights. One of the sharks, estimated to be 14 feet long and weigh 1,500 pounds, was sighted 100 yards directly off shore from a large group of people sitting in a semicircle on the beach.
Written next to the group in the sand were the words, "Happy 30th."
"They'll even go closer than that. They'll hang out in the white water," said pilot George Breen, a veteran shark spotter who does contract work for the Division of Marine Fisheries.
The pilot reported the sighting immediately to the harbormaster via radio.
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