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Great White Shark Feasts On Whale Carcass Off Cape Cod Coast


A group of private whale watchers Friday came across a rare sight of great white sharks feeding on the carcass of a dead whale off the coast of Cape Cod and the video of the incident has gone viral since it first emerged on Facebook. In the video, however, only one shark could be seen feasting on the whale carcass. 

Captain Chad Avellar, accompanied by other people on his whale watch tour, went to see the minke whale carcass being eaten by the sharks near Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, after he got a call from another whale watch company, reports said. 

Avellar told NBC Boston that he checked with his passengers to see if they would be comfortable seeing the dead whale.“They were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’” he said. When they first arrived, two “good-size” sharks were eating the carcass.

He added: “The minke was bloated and belly up. It had already been eaten on by the shark. We waited and waited for a couple minutes, then a fin popped up, then the sharks popped up. Some of the sharks even swam around the boat for about a minute and a half.” One of the sharks swam away when they stopped the boat, but other sharks remained behind and continued eating. 

Joanne Jarzobski, a marine biologist and a naturalist with SeaSalt Charters whale watch company, owned by Avellar, managed to capture the rare sight, and she later shared a video on Facebook.  

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy — a nonprofit that supports great white shark research, education, and conservation in Cape Cod — also posted some pictures on Twitter. 

“It was a really amazing experience to be able to witness this bit of nature offshore,” Jarzobski said. “It was showing so much of its body as it devoured this whale.”

Avellar told WBZ NewsRadio “This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything close to that activity with a great white,” “Every time we do this we think ‘Maybe today’s the day.’ Today was the day.”

Meanwhile, another whale watch company, Captian John Boats, also uploaded the pictures of the shark feeding on the whale on Facebook with the caption: “This morning’s passengers got to experience a once in a lifetime moment out on the water. We began with two mother-calf pairs, one of which was Rapier and her 2017 calf. What we saw next was something nobody expected. Near the end of the trip we came upon a deceased minke whale, which had previously been entangled. When we got close we saw a blue shark and two great whites feeding, one of which was 14 feet in length! Although we much prefer to see living whales, finding that carcass provided a truly amazing glimpse into the way nature recycles it’s materials!”

A press release from New England Aquarium accessed by local news networks stated the whale carcass was first spotted on Wednesday by Rob Martin, a fisherman. He saw it floating in the water near Plymouth Harbor in Cape Cod Bay.

It added the whale’s body was found northeast of Cape Cod Bay by the next day. SeaSalt Charters found it near Provincetown at the tip of Cape on Friday. 

“The minke carcass, over the course of two days, had floated into much a higher density white shark habitat,” said the release. “White sharks, which are occasionally seen in Cape Cod Bay, frequent the Atlantic-side beaches of the Outer Cape with much greater frequency, as their preferred prey of live, large grey seals, can be found in great abundance from Monomoy Island and Chatham at the elbow of Cape Cod, to Race Point in Provincetown.”

Jarzobski told NBC Boston that she believed the whale likely died after it got entangled in fishing gear. The release also added a team from the Center for Coastal Studies investigated the floating carcass for an evidence of entanglement and that no other details were made available. 



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