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Beaches closed in Eastham, Barnstable after great white shark sightings

White shark expert Greg Skomal isn’t the only Massachusetts public employee out there looking for the apex predator as they swim off the Cape Cod coastline.
White shark expert Greg Skomal isn’t the only Massachusetts public employee out there looking for the apex predator as they swim off the Cape Cod coastline.

Coast Guard Beach in Eastham was closed to swimmers for an hour Friday afternoon after a great white shark was spotted swimming 50 yards offshore. Hours earlier, beachgoers in another Cape Cod town, Barnstable, were alerted because of a sighting there.

The sightings came two days after a shark attacked a New York man in the water at Long Nook Beach in Truro. There have been 31 sightings in the past eight days in the waters off the Cape, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity alert app.

The shark attack victim, 61-year-old William Lytton of Scarsdale, remained in serious condition Friday at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Authorities and state shark expert Greg Skomal have not specified what kind of shark bit Lytton, pending more investigation and an interview with him.

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“His health and his recovery come first,’’ said Lesley Reynolds, chief ranger of the Cape Cod National Seashore. “When he is ready, we will talk to him and find out what happened, where he was, what he saw, and what he was doing.” Skomal could not be reached for comment Friday.

Long Nook Beach has been closed to swimmers since the shark attack. Town officials announced Friday afternoon that the waters would be reopened at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Reynolds said programming set for this weekend will continue as planned at the national seashore’s six beaches, noting that while the presence of sharks gets lots of attention, lifeguards spend far more time rescuing swimmers from rip tides, fast currents, and large waves suddenly crashing on them.

She said the park’s staff and lifeguards are all trained in a shark alert protocol, and that interactions between sharks and humans will continue.

“Just be vigilant to your surroundings,’’ she said.

The Barnstable sighting was reported by p0lice Friday morning. “There has been a Great White Shark sighting off Barnstable Harbor,’’ police wrote on their Facebook account around 9:45 a.m. “All North side Beaches including Sandy Neck and Millway beach goers use caution.”

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The Friday sightings came after multiple shark sightings Thursday along Cape Cod’s east-facing shores and one in Cape Cod Bay off Dennis, near Barnstable, where a fisherman reported a shark had attacked a fish on a line.

Thursday’s sightings included one by State Police troopers who were flying a helicopter over Race Point Beach at the tip of the Cape — and spotted at least two sharks. Also Thursday, swimmers at Race Point watched as a shark attacked and killed a seal.

The troopers, who were accompanied by Provincetown Police Officer Rich Alves, used the helicopter’s public address system to alert swimmers of the presence of a shark about 30 yards off shore, the department said in a Facebook post.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Sophia Eppolito can be reached at sophia.eppolito@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaEppolito.