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article imagePossible Great White Shark Visiting Martha's Vineyard, 'Swim At Your Own Risk'

By Susan Duclos     Jul 11, 2008 in Environment
In the body of water most known for the its use in the filming of the movie "Jaws", there has been confirmed and unconfirmed shark sightings with speculation that the fish is a Great White.
According to the Town of Edgartown, Massachusetts, official website there is a warning about a shark sighting at South Beach and an unconfirmed shark sighting at State Beach, to which they announce and underline, "Swim at your own risk".
Lifeguards spotted the shark in the waters off of Martha's Vineyard yesterday, claiming the dorsal fin of the shark stuck approximately 2 1/2 feet out of the water, fueling speculation that this shark was a Great White, which is the largest largest predatory fish known in the world.
Great Whites can grow to 22 feet and weight up to two tons.
Besides the sightings from the life guards 75 yards in at South Beach in Edgartown, authorities received other reports, unconfirmed as of yet about shark sightings along State Beach, which was the site used in the first scenes of the movie "Jaws".
A great white shark sighting is rare, but not unheard of in Massachusetts waters, said Greg Skomal, a shark specialist with the Division of Marine Fisheries. He said the species has a range spreading from the Gulf of Mexico into Canadian waters.
According to another report, Great Whites are not unheard of in this part of the country.
Last August, one or more great white sharks made meals of seals off Cape Cod beaches near Chatham. In 2004, a 1,750-pound (794 kilogram) great white swam into an inlet off Naushon Island, near Martha's Vineyard, and stayed there for more than two weeks, resisting biologists' efforts to evict it.
In the interest of public safety, Massachusetts state closed the beaches at the South Beach State Park yesterday.
According to Arthur Smadbeck who is the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, they do not believe this will damage their tourism, saying, "People will be so darn curious we'll probably be inundated with people wanting to see it."
One of the unconfirmed sightings has been declared a hoax by a 60-year-old Boston man, Michael Lopenzo, allegedly concocted a story about a shark sighting, after the beaches had been closed from the prior sighting by the lifeguards.
Police officials are debating whether to charge Lopenzo for disturbing the peace.
State officials insist that the beaches are safe, but there is always the stipulation that "Sharks Sighted, Swim at your own risk!"
More on Great White sharks can be found at Marine Bio.
More about Shark, Martha vineyard, Jaws