Surfers narrowly escaped a shark attack on Cape Cod's Nauset Beach Monday when the predator targeted a seal just a few feet away from the shore. Beachgoers caught the incident on camera, showing the gruesome scene where the water turned red after the shark bit the seal.
The incident prompted beach authorities in the area to prohibit swimmers and surfers from going into the water. Ballston Beach, Longnook Beach, Coast Guard Beach, Head of the Meadow Beach and Nauset Beach were temporarily closed because of shark activity.
The video shows people screaming and surfers scrambling to the shore as the shark attacked the seal. It is unclear what shark it was but many speculated it to be a great white.
"I was just, like, pulling my board, and people were yelling, 'Get out the water, get out the water!'" one of the surfers, Nisi Schlanger, told NBC New York. "I thought I was dead."
Another surfer recalled: "I just swam for my life right there, just dreading the moment the shark was gonna pull me in and suck me in."
Pat O’Brien, who was swimming with his 9-year-old daughter when the shark bit the seal, told the Boston Globe: "I was in the water with my daughter.”
“She had just gotten out and I was looking up at her, and she yelled something down to me, but I didn’t hear what it was,” he said. The moment he heard other beachgoers shouting, “Shark!” O’Brien rushed to the shore.
Recalling the horrific moment O’Brien said he noticed two teenage surfers struggling to return to the shore, according to Boston 25.
“We were yelling at them, ‘Swim! Swim! Get out of the water! Get out of the water! Shark! Shark!’” O’Brien said, adding he and another man helped one of the surfers by grabbing him by the arm. “He’s like, ‘Help me! Help me!’ So we pulled him out. We got him out okay, and then the seal just kept going down, and the blood was just everywhere.”
This is not the first time that a shark has attacked a seal so close to the beach in the Cape Cod region. In another incident, which took place earlier this month, a great white shark attacked a seal on a Chatham Beach. The shark was seen feasting on the seal, raising concerns that the predator could also attack beachgoers.
In June, experts predicted there would be an increase in shark sightings off Cape Cod because of an increasing population of grey seals. In 2014, Massachusetts Marine Fisheries recorded 68 shark sightings and the number jumped to 147 by 2016.
“They have multiplied in numbers exponentially since I became the chief,” Orleans fire chief Anthony Pike told the Boston Herald in June. “Great white sharks comprise about 30 percent of my daily work right now and I never, ever thought that would be a thing.”
Marine Fisheries scientist Gregory Skomal told National Geographic in 2016: “It’s not if, it’s when in terms of somebody being fatally attacked. We’ve got seals being eaten within 100 meters of surfers. Think about that. Cape Cod is coexisting right now, but we haven’t had the attack; we haven’t had that fatal attack.”