HomeOutdoorsNewsGreat white shark filmed devouring juvenile gray seal off the coast of Cape Cod

Great white shark filmed devouring juvenile gray seal off the coast of Cape Cod

by Caitlin Berard
Great white shark breaching
(Photo by Elizabeth Hoffmann via Getty Images)

A group of whale watchers recently got an up close and personal shark week experience when they spotted a great white shark feeding on a juvenile gray seal off the coast of Cape Cod.

It’s one thing to know logically that sharks eat seals and other large marine mammals. It’s quite another to witness one doing so mere feet from your boat.

So, true, it’s just nature being nature. But the shocked gasps and shrieks from onlookers as the estimated 12-foot great white shark dives to gulp down the final piece of the seal are totally understandable.

When the group first spotted the disturbance in the water 100 feet from the boat, they assumed it was a large tuna. Moments later, however, the unmistakable dorsal fin of a great white shark broke the surface, drawing all eyes toward their hungry visitor.

As they watched, interest turned to horror as a large pool of blood bubbled up to the surface near the bow of the ship. A juvenile gray seal had fallen victim to the prowling predator.

“The entire event only lasted around 7 minutes from when we first saw the shark quickly break the surface of the water, in what we think was the initial strike, to when the seal was consumed,” Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch wrote in a subsequent Facebook post.

Great white shark encounter marks first sighting of its kind this season

Many of the creatures we find most intimidating hibernate in winter. Alligators and snakes brumate (the reptilian version of hibernation), bears relax in their dens, even spiders go into hiding, entering a slowdown state called diapause.

Great white sharks, however, do no such thing. Rather than resting in the winter months, they simply migrate to warmer climates. On the east coast, that means venturing from Canada to Florida when the cold temperatures come.

When spring rolls around, the sharks turn around and make the same trip once more in the opposite direction. And as you might have guessed, it’s right around the time for them to swim past Cape Cod on their way north.

After sharing the footage with researchers, Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch reported that their sighting was the first “confirmation of a white shark and predation this season.”

To make the encounter even more special for the whale watching crew, it’s their first-ever sighting of a great white shark enjoying a meal.

“While we have a healthy population of great whites and seals on Cape Cod, predation events like this are not often sighted,” they said. “This is the first time our crew has seen a predation in all of our collective years on the water!”

Seals and sea lions are among a great white shark’s favorite snacks. As opportunistic feeders, however, they will hunt a wide variety of prey, including fish, rays, other sharks, sea turtles, seabirds, and crustaceans.

Despite many movies claiming otherwise, humans are not on the menu for sharks. Unprovoked attacks do occur, but they’re exceedingly rare and always a result of mistaken identity.