Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water -- the Coast Guard cautioned recreational boaters today to be aware of the possible dangers posed by great white sharks.
Noting that a 7-foot-long great white was recently caught by a fisherman on Stellwagen Bank, the agency said the big fish could easily capsize a small boat or kayak.
"Predation is not generally a concern for boaters and paddlers in Northeast waters," Al Johnson, a Coast Guard recreational boating specialist, said in a statement, "but I have no doubt that a great white shark that swims into your comfort zone would surely find a splashing paddle or dangling hand inviting."
"I also expect that same passing shark would spend little time differentiating between boater, paddler, and prey," he said.
The comments came as droves of boaters are expected to take to the ocean, seeking relief from the heat and communing with nature, over the three-day Fourth of July weekend.
Johnson also advised boaters and paddlers to avoid passing seals and avoid seal colonies.
"Simply put, why take a chance," he said. "Things can and do go wrong on the water and since a close encounter could easily have a tragic consequence, I recommend an extreme degree of caution."
State officials said earlier this week that a growing population of seals and rising water temperatures were creating conditions that could attract great whites to Cape beaches, but they said they didn't believe it was a threat to public safety and people shouldn't avoid the shore.
Great white sharks have a fearsome reputation that was cemented by the popular 1975 movie "Jaws," which depicted a mammoth, implacable, man-eating creature. (The "Jaws 2" tagline was, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.") But the sharks are not usually man-eaters and the last death blamed on a great white in New England was in 1936.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more