Posted by: coastlinesproject | October 1, 2015

Plum Island, There has been a spate of shark attacks in the area, September 25 Sandy Point Plum Island, September 30 Merrimack River and Rye NH. Probably the same 12 foot Great White.

Fisherman: Shark attacked seals in Merrimack
By John Macone Editor | Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015 3:30 am

Fisherman: Shark attacked seals in Merrimack
Scene of a possible shark sighting on Plum Island Point. A fisherman says he spotted a 12-foot shark attacking five seals near this dock.
PLUM ISLAND — Was it a shark attacking seals, or a sunfish sunbathing?
That’s the question on Plum Island, where a fisherman insists he witnessed a large shark — perhaps 12 feet long — attack a group of five seals about 25 yards from the beach.
But some locals doubt it, and think the fisherman may have seen a sunfish — a large and harmless fish that has been seen in impressive numbers off the local coast in recent weeks.
Jose Matias of Fitchburg told The Daily News he was fishing for striped bass yesterday afternoon around 12:30 when he saw a large shark shadowing a group of five seals off Plum Island Point, close to a dock used by the Captain’s Lady charter boat. The location is within the mouth of the Merrimack River, close to where it spills out into the Atlantic Ocean. A couple hundred yards away on the Salisbury shore is an area called Black Rocks, where dozens of seals are known to live.
“I could see the fin out of the water and the tail as it swam up toward them. He stayed behind them for awhile, and then was jumping, trying to catch a seal,” Matias said.
Matias said the shark circled after the seals and made a few efforts to grab one, jumping at them. The seals fled. Matias said he couldn’t tell if the shark managed to catch one, though one of them appeared “to take a hit.”
“It was very big, maybe 12 feet long,” he said.
Matias estimated the incident occurred about 30 feet off the dock area, which is 40 feet or so from the edge of the beach.
Shark sightings have been well documented off Cape Cod beaches, where the waters are warmer than here, and sharks are attracted to large populations of seals. Shark attacks on seals have also been well documented on Cape Cod: In August, hundreds of beachgoers witnessed a grisly shark attack on a seal about 20 yards off a Chatham beach.
But there have been no reports of sharks off Plum Island, apart from Matias’ account.
George Charos, a veteran charter boat captain and owner of the Captain’s Fishing Parties charter service, thought it was more likely that Matias had seen a sunfish. Sunfish have a large, black fin that looks like a shark’s fin. The docile sunfish, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, float on the surface and lazily flop their fin as they slowly swim. They often come in close to shore, and are sometimes mistaken for sharks.
“There are weird things that happen on the water, but I would tend to doubt that (he saw a shark),” Charos said. “I’ve been here 50 years and I’ve never seen a shark in the river.”
Harbormaster Paul Hogg agreed with Charos. He said that there have been no shark sightings off Plum Island beaches this summer; however, 10-12 sunfish have been seen in the area. There have been recent reports of sunfish swimming up into the Merrimack River as far as a navigational point known as the “breaker,” a concrete structure located near the middle of the river, roughly offshore from the American Yacht Club. That’s over a mile upstream from where Matias said he spotted the shark.
Matias said he fishes Plum Island often, and he has never seen anything like what he said he witnessed yesterday.
There may have been other witnesses, but no one else has come forward. Matias said a woman walking her dog may have witnessed it. Another person who first contacted The Daily News to report the incident, Roland Jaques, said he spoke to Matias immediately after the sighting. Jaques said another fisherman was standing on a sandbar farther down the beach. That fisherman was apparently scared by the incident “and he ran up the dune and was just standing watching the river.”
Matias, who was sitting in his SUV at the Plum Island Point parking lot when a Daily News reporter found him several minutes after the incident, seemed shaken by what he saw.
“I bring my kids to go swimming here, but not anymore,” he said.

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