Video shows shark munching on seal off Nantucket, closing beach to swimming

Local News

While filming seals, a visitor suddenly saw blood and captured the moment along the island’s eastern shoreline.

Great Point Lighthouse in the Coskata-Coatue wildlife refuge.
Great Point Lighthouse in the Coskata-Coatue wildlife refuge. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

A visitor to Nantucket filmed a shark feeding off a seal at Great Point on Sunday, later identified by an expert as a dusky shark.

According to the Nantucket Current, Sandy Fink filmed the shark while traveling to the island from Orlando with her boyfriend, Ron Welter. 

Welter was fishing along the shore, and Fink was videotaping seals when she suddenly saw blood. 

“I was like, ‘Is that blood?’ Wait! That is a shark, and he is eating the seal,” Fink told the Current. 

She ran to show Welter the video just in time, as he was about to enter the water for a dip. 

Fink did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. 

The Trustees of Reservations told the Current that there were separate reports of sharks attacking seals along the island’s eastern shoreline on Sunday. The organization, which owns the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, prohibited swimming all Sunday afternoon. 

It isn’t the first time sharks have been spotted feeding off Great Point in recent years. In July of last year, swimming was closed after multiple sightings of predation on seals. In May of 2022, the first great white shark sighting of the season occurred off the shores of Great Point. 

According to the Boston Globe, shark expert Greg Skomal identified the animal spotted on Sunday as a dusky shark based on its head, tail shape, and snout. 

The sighting was the first report Skomal received this summer of dusky sharks off Nantucket. These sharks have historically been seen close to the shores of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. 

Skomal told the Globe that dusky sharks are rare in Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, or generally anywhere north of the Cape. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, an inventory of global conservation status and extinction risk of biological species, lists the dusky shark as endangered. 

The lack of dusky shark sightings is most likely due to the dramatic decline in the population over the last several decades due to slow biological productivity, overfishing for its meat and fins, and bycatch.

According to NOAA, the dusky shark inhabits the inshore to outer continental shelf along the eastern coast from Cape Cod and Georges Bank to Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. 

Distinguishing characteristics include a gray or bluish-gray color with a white bottom and distinct dorsal fins. 

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