Authorities search waters off East Sandwich Beach after report of shark

By John Hilliard GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  SEPTEMBER 02, 2018

A report of a shark attacking a seal off a Sandwich beach Sunday caused officials from the fire department and US Coast Guard to spend much of the day patrolling the area, police said.

The shark was spotted at about 10 a.m. in the water off East Sandwich Beach and reported to the town’s Public Safety Dispatch Center, police said in a statement posted to Facebook.

“The caller reported they believed the shark was attacking a seal,” police said.

The Sandwich Fire Department sent out their patrol boat in the water to check the area, plus the US Coast Guard also assisted in the search, police said.

Searchers from the fire department and the Coast Guard did not report any other shark sightings in the area Sunday, officials told the Globe Sunday afternoon.

Any shark sightings in the area of Sandwich beaches can be reported to the town’s Public Safety Dispatch Center at 508-888-1212, police said.

The sighting comes near the end of a busy summer for safety officials and biologists monitoring shark activity off the Massachusetts coastline.

Greg Skomal, program manager and senior scientist with the Division of Marine Fisheries, told the Associated Press that his team spotted 149 great whites off Cape Cod in July -- more than double the 74 great whites found during the same time last year.

Researchers saw 120 great whites in July 2016, he said.

He said younger, smaller great whites -- each about 8 to 10 feet long -- were making up a greater number of the shark sightings this year.

Skomal confirmed Friday that a great white shark attacked a 61-year-old swimmer off a Truro beach last month, the Globe previously reported.

On Friday afternoon, lifeguards at Coast Guard beach in Eastham closed the beach after a great white shark was seen “just a couple of yards” offshore. It was the 27th time a beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore was closed this summer due to a shark sighting.

On Wednesday, Nathan Sears, Orleans’s harbormaster and natural resources director, warned beachgoers that need to be more alert while out on the water to avoid an attack.

“White sharks have bitten people along this coastline. Fortunately, no one has died yet. However, it can only be expected that more incidents will occur if people continue to take unnecessary risks,” Sears wrote in a Facebook post.

 

Steve Annear of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.

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