Posts Tagged ‘grey seal’

This was the first time this guy ever kayaked!

MSNBC reports:

A first-time kayaker had a close encounter with a great white shark off the coast of Massachusetts over the weekend.

Sunbathers first spotted the shark following two kayakers on Saturday afternoon off Nauset Beach, the Cape Cod Times reported, and yelled to the men offshore.

One of the kayakers saw the shark and quickly paddled in, while it took the other one, Walter Szulc Jr., of Manchester, N.H., a little while longer to notice the dorsal fin just feet away from him.

“There were hundreds of people on the beach, and they were all at the edge, yelling paddle paddle, paddle!” Dave Alexander told the NBC News affiliate in Boston, WHDH.com.

Szulc said when he looked behind him, the shark “was pretty much right there.”

“It was good-sized, it had a fin sticking out, so I just turned and paddled,” he told WHDH.com. It was the first time Szulc had kayaked.

Since June 30, three sharks have been seen plying the waters off Cape Cod for food, the Cape Cod Times reported. The large number of seals in the area is believed to be drawing the sharks.

Orleans Harbormaster Dawson Farber said he and his team went out in a boat to confirm the sighting – he noted the shark was an estimated 12 to 14 feet long — and they had all bathers get out of the water. The beach was also closed.

“Everyone was very relaxed and the shark put on quite a show moving back and forth out in front of the beach, but it was done in a very orderly fashion,” Farber told ABC News.

Witness Debbie Sutton said Szulc “started booking it.”

“You could see the darkness of it,” she told WHDH.com. “It was longer than the kayak … it was crazy big.”

Not all beachgoers were scared by the great white. Some even got into the water at the beach later in the day.

“Everyone wanted to see it,” Karen O’Connell of Medfield told the Cape Cod Times. “There were people running toward it.”

The last shark attack on a human in the area was in 1936, when a man was killed swimming near Mattapoisett, the newspaper reported.

Great white sharks come to New England for a very simple reason:

The New England gray seal population is continuing to grow.  And we all know that great whites are major predators of marine mammals.

Gray seals have made a comeback in the northwestern Atlantic. Both Massachusetts and Maine had bounties on gray seals, and they were heavily persecuted in Atlantic Canada for transmitting the cod worm.

The United States has very strict regulations for protecting seal and sea lions. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 has allowed seals and sea lions to thrive in our waters.

Of course, as they have been able to thrive, so may their predators.

Great whites are currently protected in US waters.

So people are going to be swimming in water that contains a predator and prey dynamic of two protected species.

It’s actually somewhat amazing that these sharks haven’t attacked anyone since 1936.

The potential is there.

It just hasn’t happened yet.

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One can see from this video why the colonial French name for these seal makes perfect sense:  le loup marin.

The sea wolf.

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Grey seals or horsehead seals are found along the New England coast in the United States, as well as the Maritimes, the Gulf of St. Lawrence (especially the Magdalen Islands), and Newfoundland. Another population is found along the coasts of Northern Europe, especially that of Great Britain.

When one looks into the eyes of these seals, one realizes why they were the inspiration for an Elton John song.

And tell me grey seal

How does it feel

To be so wise

To see through eyes

That only see what’s real?

Tell me grey seal



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