East Coast Kayakers Survive Great White Strike

One kayak bitten off Plymouth, Mass. in unusual occurrence for the Atlantic

In a rare occurrence, a suspected 14- to 16-foot great white shark bit a kayak near Plymouth, Mass. Photo courtesy Pelagic Shark Research Institute.

In a rare occurrence, a suspected 14- to 16-foot great white shark bit a kayak near Plymouth, Mass. Photo courtesy Pelagic Shark Research Foundation.

By Paul Lebowitz

Updated Sept. 4, 9 am Pacific

Two kayakers who were photographing seals off Monomet Point, Masschusetts, survived a toothy interaction with a suspected great white Wednesday evening.

The women were identified as Ida Parker and Kristin Orr in a WCVB.com report. “I looked back at her and it came directly out of the water, underneath the boat, launched her backwards and flipped me over,” Parker told WCVB.com.

“It happened so fast. I was talking to her and the next minute I’m in the water and I just see a shark biting my kayak,” Orr said.

This breach attack scenario is a familiar one to Pacific coast kayak anglers, particularly those who paddle in a region known as the Red Triangle, where a great white knocks a kayaker into the water once every year or two.

The women were only 150 yards offshore in short recreational sit-inside kayaks. Another kayaker paddled out to help. Thirty minutes later the Plymouth Harbormaster arrived and rescued the women.

Based on the bite mark and tooth fragments left in the kayak, Massachusetts Environmental Police confirmed the shark as a likely great white between 14- and 16-feet long. The women, both in their mid-20s, were uninjured.

RELATED: The Shark Survivors Club

Such interactions are relatively rare on the east coast, although great white shark numbers are reportedly surging along the eastern seaboard as documented by the OCEARCH Shark Tracker.

Swimmer Chris Myers survived a great white shark bite in 2012 at Truro, the first confirmed Mass. shark bite since 1936.

Despite the increasing number of great white kayak strikes, no kayaker has been seriously injured during the modern kayak fishing era. While fishing off the coast of Maui in December 2013, Patrick A. Briney succumbed to a suspected tiger shark bite, the first extensively documented shark-caused kayak fishing fatality.

Adult great white sharks feed largely on marine mammals. Great white shark researcher Sean Van Summeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation recommends kayakers avoid seal and sea lion colonies and haul-outs.

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