It feels like this summer has been full of shark sightings near the state’s beaches, but the latest spotting hits a little closer to home: Nearly 10 miles inland in the Taunton River.
The sighting was first reported at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday when, according to a report from the Taunton Daily Gazette, Dighton Harbormaster Ronald Marino received a call from local police about a shark in shallow water nearby.
Marino told the Gazette that the 10- to 12-foot-long shark was a sand tiger shark that had likely been tracking a school of small fish. He added that it had likely gotten stranded on a sandbar after the tide went out.
But on Thursday, the type of shark came under dispute after Gregory Skomal, a senior marine biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told the Gazette he had determined it was a basking shark. Basking sharks can grow to be over 30 feet long, but are harmless to humans and only feed on plankton.
Wednesday’s sighting is the third in ten days after sharks were spotted near Duxbury Beach and off the coast of Chatham, and the recent slew of sightings closes out a summer that felt like it was full of sharks.
Sharknado 2’s premiere in July, the annual Shark Week celebration in August, a similar streak of sightings in June, and even the recent sunfish-being-confused-for-sharks incidents have kept our famously dorsal-finned friends on the mind throughout the summer months. And apparently that is how it should be: According to the Associated Press, the Great White shark population in the Atlantic off the coast of the United States and Canada is on the rise and shark sightings off Cape Cod have risen with it.
Of course, even though open bodies of water full of potential predators can be terrifying, the increases in shark population and shark sightings aren’t necessarily bad. According to that same AP report on Cape Cod sightings, the spike in shark-related news has been a big boon for local businesses. And so long as there aren’t any actual shark attacks, there’s nothing wrong with businesses making a killing with their shark swag.