Two Great White sharks spotted near Martha's Vineyard
Two charter boat captains reported seeing a great white shark off Martha's Vineyard last week in separate incidents.
But no one should run screaming from the water yet, according to a state expert who studies sharks.
Despite the cultural fear of sharks, often attributed to the movie "Jaws," it is not unusual to see the species off the Cape and Islands, said Greg Skomal, a fisheries biologist who specializes in studying sharks for the state Division of Marine Fisheries.
"There are great whites off the coast of New England, although the species is relatively rare," he said.
"I did not observe the animal or animals myself, but the two people who reported them are experienced, credible sources."
The accounts by Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop of Aquinnah and Capt. Scott McDowell of Chilmark are similar. Both described an animal around 15 feet long and wide in girth.
Vanderhoop reported spotting the animal about 500 feet off Menemsha Beach in the early evening. McDowell reported spotting the shark while on a charter off Gay Head.
Skomol said that while not skeptical of the two captains' observations, many people often mistake basking sharks for great whites.