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Man attacked by shark off Cape Cod

A shark attack victim was loaded onto a helicopter.David Curran for the Globe

A 61-year-old man suffered puncture wounds to his hip area late Wednesday afternoon in a shark attack on Cape Cod and was flown by helicopter to a Boston hospital for treatment, according to officials.

Gary Sharpless, Truro’s assistant harbormaster, said the man was bitten near Long Nook Beach in Truro. The town beach was closed to swimming until further notice, he said.

Leslie Reynolds, the chief ranger at Cape Cod National Seashore, said the attack occurred around 4:15 p.m. She said she was told the man was standing about 30 yards offshore and about 300 yards south of Long Nook Beach when he was bitten.


She was told he suffered injuries to his “left hip and upper-quad area,” and Truro paramedics treated him at the scene, she said. The victim was taken to the national park’s Marconi site in Wellfleet, where he was met by a medical helicopter, she said.

He was flown to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, she said. Reynolds did not know the man’s condition Wednesday evening.

A witness who was visiting Cape Cod for the first time said beachgoers rushed to help the man.

Michael Sheridan of Philadelphia had been at the beach with his wife and two children for only about 15 minutes when he saw people running. Some headed toward the victim in the water, he said, while others ran toward the parking lot, because they had no cellphone service and wanted to call 911. When the victim was helped out of the water, he left a trail of blood on the sand, Sheridan said.

The gash was deep, Sheridan said, and located right below the hip.

“You could almost see his bone,” Sheridan said by telephone Wednesday night.

Beachgoers got towels, and there was some thought about making a tourniquet, but the wound was too far up his leg for that to be effective, Sheridan said.


The man was bundled in a towel and a group carried him off the beach with several people holding the edges, Sheridan said. The man was conscious but wasn’t saying much, he said.

“I thought he was dying right there,” said Sheridan, who carried him about 100 yards before he tired. “I thought he was going to bleed out on this beach.”

National Park Service rangers are investigating the incident, which occurred within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Truro police said late Wednesday.

The incident was one of five shark sightings reported on the Cape Wednesday, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

Two other sightings were reported off Nauset Beach in Orleans, and two were reported off Provincetown, one near Mission Bell Dune Shack and one off the coast by a whale watch boat, the the conservancy reported on its app, Sharktivity.

In a statement, the head of the nonprofit conservancy said details of the Truro attack were not fully known, but she called such incidents rare.

“Encounters with white sharks in which people suffer injuries are as terrifying as they are rare,” chief executive Cynthia Wigren said. “While we still don’t know all of the details of this particular bite, sharks are not known to target people specifically and when they do bite people it’s usually a case of mistaken identity.”

Sharks, she said, use their teeth to inspect, “much like we use our hands. It is how they determine if what they encounter is prey.”


Still, the attack was the latest and most serious after a series of shark sightings on Cape Cod this summer.

Earlier this week, guests on a sport fishing boat reported that great white sharks had snacked on stripers they were reeling in on Cape Cod Bay. The captain said two such incidents had occurred in two days.

Last week, two Cape Cod beaches were closed in an afternoon because at least one great white shark had been spotted lurking offshore, officials said.

In a video taken Aug. 2, researchers in Cape Cod waters spotted a shark eating a seal.

During a weeklong stretch in July, 10 great white sharks were spotted off the Cape, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

In 2012, a Boston native survived an attack by a great white in Truro.

The state’s last fatal shark attack is thought to have been in 1936, when a 16-year-old was seized by a 6-foot shark in Mattapoisett.

Material from previous Globe stories was used in this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at