OCEAN SHORES, Wash. (AP) — A great white shark about 18-feet long is believed to be swimming off the Washington coast and feeding on harbor seals close to shore, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The evidence is a seal that was found Thursday on a beach near Ocean Shores, neatly bitten in half.
A necropsy was performed by the department in consultation with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shark expert in California.
They determined on Tuesday the likely predator was a great white shark. Judging by the spacing of the bite marks it is about 18 feet long, said spokesman Craig Bartlett.
The seal found last week with its hindquarters missing was a female that weighed more than 200 pounds. Its stomach was filled with smelt, indicating she had been recently attacked close to shore.
Great white sharks appear off the Washington coast, as they do elsewhere around the world, Bartlett said. And marine mammals are a staple of their diet.
The big sharks usually don’t come close to shore, but this one may have followed a warm current, Bartlett said.
Only two shark attacks on humans have been documented in Washington — one in the 1830s and one in 1989. The attacks weren’t fatal, Bartlett said.
As a precaution the department has notified other agencies of the presence of the great white shark, including the Coast Guard, state parks, and local governments and tribes on the coast.
Another seal found dead near Ocean Shores on Saturday also was examined, but it was determined it likely died as a result of being entangled in a fishing net, Bartlett said. It did not have bite marks.
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