A shark sighting was reported Monday morning at popular Horseneck Beach, and officials closed it for about two hours as a precaution, said Westport Harbormaster Richard Earle.
The shark was not spotted by officials, but was reported by an 18-year-old fisherman, Josh Gonsalves of Westport.
Gonsalves and his father were about two miles from shore, near the end of Two Mile Ledge, fishing for bluefish when he sighted the shark.
“My face was facing the shore and I heard a splash behind the boat and I turned around, then the school [of bluefish] disappeared,” he said. “I saw a fin pop up. The school of bluefish came back and I saw a fin cut through the school.”
At first, Gonsalves thought the shark was a sunfish, but when he got closer he saw the dorsal fin and the head of a shark.
“I was pretty scared,” he said. “Just thinking that there’s something bigger in the water than you—what if I fell in? I knew I had to get out of there and I did.”
Gonsalves said that although he didn’t see the entire body of the shark, he estimated that it was 10 to 12 feet long, based on the size if its head.
Earle said he thinks the bluefish attracted the shark to the area. “I think that’s what got [the shark] a little excited.”
Neither Earle nor Town Administrator Michael Coughlin expect the sighting to affect tourism at Horseneck beach.
“Even though we closed the beach for an hour, there were still folks enjoying the beach after it was reopened,” said Coughlin, who added that the town has stepped up its patrols.
“Protection of the public and its citizens is our priority. The harbormaster and the lifeguards will take a very vigilant watch,” he said.
The sighting of a shark at Horseneck follows numerous official sightings of great white sharks off of Chatham that have led to the closure of five miles of South Beach.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more