A 7-foot-long shark spotted multiple times off Front Beach in Rockport caused a scare with swimmers, though officials believe the shark was trying to dislodge a hook from its mouth.
The first sighting was reported to the Rockport harbor master at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, forcing swimmers out of the water, though the beach was not closed.
Initial reports did not identify the type of shark, but it had come close to swimmers, according to Scott Story, a Rockport harbor master.
“We weren’t sure what we were dealing with,” Story said.
Story and his colleague Rosemary Lesch looked for the shark from the beach but could not locate it and left.
Within an hour the shark was sighted again, and the harbor masters were called to the beach once more. Again they were unable to sight it. But on a third call, they were able to see the animal and identify it as a blue shark, Story said.
It turned out that the shark was trying to dislodge a hook caught in its mouth near the rocks off Front Beach. Lesch said they believed that if they helped, the shark might leave.
Story said he lassoed the shark and brought it to shore, removed the hook, and released it back into the water. The shark returned to the area within a half-hour. The officials said they decided to move the shark further from the beach, in hope it would finally leave.
“Scott got back in the water and lassoed it by the tail,” Lesch said. “We put it on the boat, went out a mile and a half, and it swam off.”
The shark did not return, they said.
“We hope it stays out of that area and hope it stays better,” Story said. “Time will tell.”
Blue sharks pose little risk to humans, said New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse.
“Blue sharks are exclusively fish eaters,” LaCasse said. “They eat squid, as well.”
LaCasse said blue sharks are common on the North Shore, and agreed that it was likely the shark was close to shore because it was traumatized after it was hooked.
“It is likely the shark was in shock,” he said. “Its equilibrium was off.”