Expert: Great white likely attacked Mass. swimmer

July 31, 2012 - 6:35 PM
Swimmer Bitten

In this Monday, July 30, 2012 photo, Christopher Myers is carried off Ballston Beach in Truro, Mass., after sustaining bite wounds to his legs while swimming. The beach, on Cape Cod, remained open Tuesday as authorities tried to determine whether it was a shark that attacked him. (AP Photo/Cape Cod Times, Eric Williams) INTERNET OUT. MAGS OUT. TV OUT. NO ARCHIVING WITHOUT PERMISSION. NO SALES. MANDATORY CREDIT: ERIC WILLIAMS/CAPE COD TIMES.

BOSTON (AP) — A man bitten while swimming off a Cape Cod beach was likely attacked by a great white shark, a Massachusetts shark biologist said Tuesday.

State Marine Fisheries official Gregory Skomal said the description of the swimmer's injuries, witness accounts and the presence of gray seals near the beach fit with a great white attack. The sharks feed on gray seals.

Scientists won't know for sure until they can talk to the victim, identified by police as Christopher Myers.

Myers was bitten Monday while swimming off Ballston Beach in Truro. He was hospitalized with severe cuts on both legs, but was not expected to lose any limbs, officials said.

Ballston Beach remained open Tuesday, but signs warned swimmers of a recent shark sighting and told them to swim at their own risk.

The last great white shark attack in Massachusetts was in 1936 and was fatal, Marine Fisheries Assistant Press Secretary Reggie Zimmerman said.

The number of great white sightings off the Massachusetts coast has increased in the last few years, likely because of a growing seal population luring sharks closer to shore, Skomal said.

Skomal said fisheries officials have tagged, and are tracking, nine great white sharks off the coast. While they can't track them in real time, they try to check the data weekly. So far, there has been no evidence the nine great whites have traveled as far north as the site of Monday's attack.

The tagged sharks were between 9- and 18-feet long.