Hug for cousin Bob on Cape Cod
LIGHTHOUSE BEACH IN CHATHAM
ON CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
“A white shark was seen just out there in the water,” the woman on the beach told me.
My husband and I stopped at Lighthouse Beach to view the Chatham Lighthouse, and, of course, to immerse my feet in the cool beach sand. I didn’t want my feet in the water because it was too early in the day to have sand stuck to these feet.
Standing at the shoreline I’d watched the two women walked towards me with two small children, fortunately a one-on-one situation. I recalled my beach days as I watched the children, one of whom wanted to wade into the waters fearlessly:
It was one of these women who waved her hand over the water as she told me about a shark fighting with a seal near the shoreline yesterday.
The next morning, at my cousin Bob’s Dennistown home, he handed me the newspaper article on the shark sighting:
Eastham: Bruce Langsen was out on Coast Guard Beach (taking photographs when he) saw what he believes was a great white shark feeding on a seal. He captured the incident in a photograph that shows a dorsal fin surrounded by blood in the water. He also captured an image of two surfers in the nearby blood pool.*
The accompanying photograph was quite impressive.
As I began this post it became clear that there was some confusion in beach names. After some research I discovered the woman was correct in her story but erred about its location. There are two beaches, Coast Guard Beach in Wellfleet, and Lighthouse Beach in Chatham. We were at Lighthouse Beach, not Coast Guard Beach. It’s easy to confuse the two because the lighthouse sign mentions the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and a boat in front of the lighthouse is imprinted with U. S. Coast Guard.
Regardless, Internet surfing provided me with information on great white shark sightings in the Eastham and Chatham, Massachusetts, area.
In early July A pair of sharks was spotted off the coast of Chatham Tuesday …The sighting came after officials warned swimmers to steer clear of seals because they attract great white sharks…“The only area that we really have any concern with is our east-facing ocean beaches. It comprises in Chatham’s area about six miles of beach. Chatham has 66 miles of coastline so we’re talking about a very small area,” said Stuart Smith, Chatham harbormaster.
In mid-July 2013 two great white shark sightings were sighted at the Chatham coastline. One was a 15-foot great white shark that was spotted stalking seals within 100 feet of a Chatham beach. The other was a shark estimated to be 14 feet long about 200 yards offshore, in open water just east of North Chatham.
FYI: The great white whale, a carnivore, is an endangered fish between 15 to more than 20 feet long. It weighs 5,000 pounds or more. A group of great white whales is called a school or a shoal.
To give you an idea of what a GW considers to be the ultimate meal - the Big Mac of the sea, if you will – think of those cute seals and sea lions you often see performing at a Sea World near you. They are collectively known as pinnipeds and they are the preferred food of the GW – over fish, other sharks, or your Aunt Sally.
Great whites are the largest predatory fish on Earth. They grow to an average of 15 feet (4.6 meters) in length, though specimens exceeding 20 feet (6 meters) and weighing up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) have been recorded.
They have slate-gray upper bodies to blend in with the rocky coastal sea floor, but get their name from their universally white underbellies. They are streamlined, torpedo-shaped swimmers with powerful tails that can propel them through the water at speeds of up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour… Highly adapted predators, their mouths are lined with up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in several rows, and they have an exceptional sense of smell to detect prey. They even have organs that can sense the tiny electromagnetic fields generated by animals. Their main prey items include sea lions, seals, small toothed whales, and even sea turtles, and carrion.
Great whites can detect one drop of blood in 25 gal (100 L) of water and can sense even tiny amounts of blood in the water up to 3 mi (5 km) away.
Before leaving Lighthouse Beach one of the women snapped my picture:
and I left a message in the sand:
* Cape Cod Times, September 16, 2013. pp A12