HAMPTON — As Cape Cod beaches are closed because of great white shark sightings, fishermen in New Hampshire say they are coming into contact with a variety of larger marine species getting closer to the shoreline.
Capt. Bob Tonkin runs Captain Bob’s Lobster Tours and Fishing Charters in Hampton. He said this summer there was a whale only about 100 yards from the beach. On Tuesday, he spotted a tuna in just 15 feet of water.
And a few weeks ago, Tonkin said a young tourist on one of his charters caught a mako shark within two miles of shore, which is highly unusual.
Tonkin points to an abundance of menhaden, a feeder fish known as pogies. Whales and tuna eat pogies, he said. Seals also eat pogies and sharks hunt for seals. Tonkin suspects the bumper crop of pogies is contributing to the increase in shark sightings in New England this year.
“I’ve never seen so many pogies. You could walk on them, there’s so many,” Tonkin said on Wednesday.
Tonkin and his sister, Capt. Jeanne Bailey, say unlike the mako shark catch, most local shark sightings are much farther out from shore. They run a catch-and-release shark charter for people interested in catching one.
Bailey said the charters also encounter sharks on their haddock fishing charters. They can be a nuisance at times.
“If you’re reeling up a haddock, they’ll eat them up,” Bailey said.
According to MassLive.com, Wednesday marked the third consecutive day that officials at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet stopped people from getting into the ocean. A tagged shark was found near a buoy close to the beach.
Head of the Meadow Beach was also closed, according to MassLive.com.
Last September, 26-year-old Arthur Medici of Revere, Mass., was bitten by a white shark while boogie-boarding off Newcomb Hollow Beach. He was killed.
It was the first shark-related fatality since 1936 in Massachusetts, according to MassLive.com.
Experts tell people concerned about white shark attacks to stay away from seals and avoid using water recreation equipment that could make the human body look like a seal to a shark.
They also suggest swimming in a group; not wandering far from shore; avoiding the water at night, dawn or dusk; and say to never enter the water if you are bleeding.