A Dozen Great White Sharks Spotted In The Past Week
by Tim Wood
CHATHAM --- State
officials could not confirm that the shark in the dramatic photo taken
off Nauset Beach on Saturday was a great white shark. In fact, it
“Most likely it was a
basking shark,” said Reginald Zimmerman, spokesman for the state
division of marine fisheries. “They feed on plankton, so it's not really
The photo of a
kayaker warily eying the fin following in his wake was widely
circulated, appearing on national TV news programs and websites. But
while that kayaker might not have had any reason to worry, given that
the big fish tailing him was harmless, recent sightings -- and two
taggings this week -- have made it
plain that there are plenty of great white sharks in the waters to the
east of Chatham and the Outer Cape.
“I think this is
going to be the new norm,” Harbormaster Stuart Smith commented Tuesday
on the more than a dozen great white sharks spotted during the past
week. Chatham's east facing beaches remain open to swimming as of
Tuesday, although a ban on swimming within 300 feet of seals, the
primary prey of the sharks, remains in effect.
On Monday, state
researchers checked several receivers that monitor several sharks tagged
last summer. Three receivers on buoys inside the harbor – one off
Lighthouse Beach, another off Andrew Harding's Lane beach and a third
east of Chatham Bars Inn – registered no hits, Smith said. But for
receivers on buoys outside of the harbor, it was a different story.
“There were lots of
hits on those,” he said. All of the hits, he added, came from the same
two sharks which had registered the first confirmed white shark presence
in the area in early June.
There has only been a
single incident of a shark registering on a buoy near the swimming area,
he said. That was on the red buoy off Lighthouse Beach on June 10.
The spotter pilot
George Breen and the crew of the Ezyduzit, working under contract with
the state, have spotted numerous white sharks in recent weeks. Just this
week they tagged two great white sharks. According to their website,
capecodsharkhunterse.com, a 16-foot shark was tagged Monday after being
stalked for more than an hour. Smith said a second shark was tagged
Breen spotted a total
of five sharks Monday, including an 18-footer, according to the website.
Smith said three more were spotted Tuesday, all in the area that's
become known as “Shark Cove,” at the spot where South Beach and Monomoy
join, which is heavily populated by gray seals.
“That seems to be the
hotbed,” Smith said.
Breen also reported
seeing three white sharks July 8 and two July 3 in the South Beach/Monomoy
area. Sharks were also spotted June 28 and 30 and July 2. The sharks
seen in June were north of the Chatham inlet.
having to close Lighthouse Beach to swimming at some point due to the
presence of sharks, just as they did last year, said Park and Recreation
Director Dan Tobin. He noted that the receivers are only registering
sharks that have been tagged, and it's clear there's more of them out
there than just the handful with electronic monitors on their backs.
Smith added that partially eaten seal carcasses continue to be found on
a fairly regular basis.