A group of whale-watching excursionists off Provincetown, Massachusetts, had the sight of a lifetime when a great white shark swam up to the boat and began attacking and eating a seal – and the whole macabre scene was filmed.
The predation event took place in seven minutes on Saturday May 20 during a tour organized by Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch.
In a video captured by a member of the group and published on facebookone 12 feet long (4 meters) great White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) can be seen prowling near the boat. Then, suddenly, a juvenile gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) comes out of the water, only for the shark to snap it in half with its razor-sharp teeth.
“Although we have a healthy population of great whites and seals on Cape Cod, predatory events like this are not often seen,” Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch representatives wrote in the Facebook post. “This is the first time our crew has seen predation in all of our collective years on the water.”
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In a statementthe New England Aquarium has confirmed this to be the first great white shark sighting of the season on Cape Cod.
During the summer, it’s common for great white sharks to congregate off Cape Cod due to the abundance of gray seals that live there, according to Massachusetts Shark Research Program. These marine mammals were nearly wiped out in the mid-20th century due to hunting, but the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act helped gray seals bounce back.
Once the number of gray seals increased, so did the number of great white sharks feeding on them, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.
“Although white shark bites on humans are rare, this sighting reminds swimmers and boaters to be aware of the presence of these marine animals,” John Chisholm, an assistant scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, said in the statement. “It is important to be aware of the presence of sharks in shallow water, to avoid places where seals are present or schools of fish visible and to stay close to shore when lifeguards can reach you if necessary. “
The sighting was also documented on the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app, according to the statement.