Truro Closes Three Beaches after Great White Shark Sightings

Minke whale carcass, white shark predation. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786

COURTESY OF THE CENTER FOR COASTAL STUDIES

TRURO – The Town of Truro has closed three beaches after six great white sharks were found feeding on a deceased whale near Noons Landing.

Noons Landing, Beach Point and Cold Storage beaches are all closed to swimming.

Town officials ask that people be vigilant and report any sightings on the bay side beaches to Truro Police.

Members of the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) reported on Thursday afternoon that they saw two great whites feeding on the deceased whale four miles out from Pamet Harbor.

For the past three days, CCS researchers have been monitoring the carcass of a small minke whale in Cape Cod Bay off North Truro.

The carcass was reported to the Center on Wednesday morning.

Once on scene they found an 11-foot long, female minke whale floating belly up.

The carcass was intact and in good condition, indicating the whale had not been dead for long.

There were no outward signs of the cause of death and samples were collected before leaving the carcass.

On Thursday the team responded and found the carcass in radically different condition.

At least two white sharks were attending the whale and had removed the tongue, internal organs and most of the muscle.

The carcass was still floating but was essentially little more than the spinal column and skull.

The team left the carcass and alerted town and State officials.

Scott Landry, Director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team at the Center, explained that, while the vast majority of cetacean research focuses on live whales, it is equally as important to study deceased individuals.

“Had we not had the opportunity to closely examine this whale over the last 48 hours and witness firsthand the rapid deterioration of the carcass, we might have assumed that these reports represented  separate individuals” Landry explained. ”How carcasses change over time is helpful in understanding the likelihood of discovering whale carcasses at sea and how this relates to our understanding of populations.”

Members of the public are reminded to exercise caution if they find remains similar to these in the water, as they represent a significant food source for large predators including several shark species.

Such sightings should be reported immediately to the US Coast Guard on VHS 16 or to response teams like the Marine Animal Entanglement Hotline at 1-800-900-3622.

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