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article imageBeaches reopen after 13-foot Great White shark washes ashore

By Yukio Strachan     Sep 4, 2012 in Environment
Little Compton - When fisherman Gary Severa first spotted the shark Saturday morning, he thought it was driftwood; getting a little closer, his heart started to race when he realized that this driftwood had razor sharp teeth and eyes –– that stared back at him.
“It made your adrenaline go because he's stone dead, but my God, it has "Jaws" written all over it,” said Severa who reported it to police.
Severa, 65, says he was out fishing about an hour before dawn at Brayton Point in Westport when came face-to-face with the 13-foot Great White shark washed ashore on the state line between Westport, Mass. and Little Compton, RI on Saturday, WPRI news reported.
“It was pretty scary standing next to that thing,” he said.
The state’s shark expert Greg Skomal, a marine biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, confirmed to WCVB that the shark was indeed that of a male Great White and weighed about 1500 lbs.
“We’re thinking it’s a basking shark at first because they do wash ashore quite a bit,” he told CBS news. “But this is clearly a Great White shark and it catches us a little off guard.”
“We're just curious why it ended up on the beach,” added Skomal, WCVB reported.
Scientists aren't the only ones curious.
“To think this big shark is right here where we swim in the water,” said beachgoer Kristin Alder. "Pretty crazy."
Screenshot via Video
As a result of the find and taking no chances, local officials closed South Shore Beach and neighboring South Shore Goosewing Beach in Little Compton for swimmers.
That sounded like a great idea to beachgoers.
"I'm glad summer is over," Alder told the local station. "Don't think I'll go back in the water."
Scientists said the shark had not been tagged and there was no obvious sign of trauma, according to CBS news. So marine experts will perform necropsy (autopsy for animals) to find out what caused the shark’s death. They will also dissect the carcass for scientific research.
“It will be a formal dissection,” Skomal told CBS. “We’ll be looking at its reproductive system, taking sections of its backbone, [and] looking at its stomach. [We are] trying to learn about its biology from various aspects.”
Recent shark sightings
The discovery came the same day officials closed a popular Cape Cod destination, Nauset Beach, to swimmers after seven great white sharks were spotted off the coast, some just feet from the shore, according to the NYDailyNews.
It also came less than two weeks after officials shut down nearly 10 miles of Cape Cod beaches because it was “not safe to go back in the water,” after a great white feasting on a seal just inches from a family’s boat was caught on tape, ABC News reported.
Cause of death: undetermined
On Sunday morning, one day after the discovery, Goosewing and South Shore Beaches were back open to swimmers. Little Compton police sent out a patrol boat to watch for other sharks, WPRI-TV reported Sunday.
State officials said Sunday that Skomal wasn’t able to determine how the shark died.
What will happen to the Great White shark? Krista Selmi, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said officials plan to leave the shark’s body where it is, The Washington Post reported.
“There’s really no means to move an animal of that size,” she said.
The shark appeared to have washed ashore Friday night, Selmi said. The carcass is below the high tide level, and officials hope the tide drags the shark back out to sea.
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