Kayakers survive great white shark attack

Two Massachusetts kayakers survived a great white shark attack Wednesday while out taking pictures of seals. Officials are still searching for the great white shark that attacked the kayakers.

Kevin Weng/University of Hawaii/Reuters/File
A great white shark is pictured in the Eastern North Pacific in this undated file photo. Two kayakers were attacked by a great white shark in Massachusetts late Wednesday.

A pleasant trip by two Massachusetts kayakers to check out some cute seals turned terrifying as the pair encountered a great white shark.

Ida Parker and Kristin Orr, who describe themselves as experienced kayakers, say they were about 150 yards off shore Wednesday evening taking pictures of seals when something came up from beneath and tried to take a bite out of one kayak, spilling both of them into the water.

"It happened so fast," Orr said. "I was talking to (Parker) and the next minute I'm in the water and I just see a shark biting my kayak."

Parker got an up close look.

"It was dark gray, pointy nose, big teeth, big eyes," Parker said. "It was like right next to me. It was petrifying."

Orr said she started thrashing around, which she acknowledges she probably shouldn't have done.

The fish swam away and the Plymouth harbormaster rescued the women, both in their 20s, after a bystander called 911.

A spokeswoman for the state Division of Marine Fisheries says an agency expert determined that it was a great white shark due to a tooth fragment and the bite radius left in one of the kayaks.

Great whites have become common off the coast of Massachusetts in recent summers, attracted by the seals, their favorite meal. Sightings often prompt beach closings.

Officials have closed beaches in the area as a precautionary measure, as they search for the great white shark. As the Boston Globe reported Thursday:

Plymouth Harbormaster Chad Hunter said today that he had positioned boats near Manomet Point and that his crews are scouring the water for signs of a great white shark, but so far nothing had been spotted.

He stressed, however, that it is very difficult to actually spot a shark from a boat — unless their notorious dorsal fin breaks the water’s surface. 

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