Updated: Jan 11, 2022
What do Jaws, Bambi and I have in common?... Nothing really. We just happened to be at the same beach at the same time.
You wouldn't believe me if I told you, so I just have to show you. I have visited many beaches and been on the open ocean many times. I'm always searching. Searching for fish, sharks, whales, rare creatures, and at times maybe an alien or UFO. Most of the time I'm just hoping that I'm in the right spot at the right time. 99 times out of 100 I'm in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
But this day was different, much different. I was there and present in the right place at the right time to see the elusive great white shark up close an personal in the midst of predation. My day was made just by seeing a dorsal fin and tail fin of Jaws. But the beach wasn't done showcasing it's line up of stars. At the same time as Jaws decided to show up, so did Bambi. A mother and younger deer happened to be frolicking on the beach with no worries at the same time this great white was in the middle of tearing apart a seal for lunch. I didn't know what to film; the elusive Jaws or the majestic Bambi and its mom.
I chose to keep my focus on the water and the injured seal that was in between choosing its fate as it was mortally wounded by the shark earlier.
Location: Race Point Beach, Provincetown, MA
10:30 am: Me and my girlfriend got to race point beach where we were surprised to see less people than expected for a Saturday beach day. We noted the shark warning signs at the entrance of the beach not knowing what we would see out there. We decided to settle a little further down the beach away from the crowd.
11:15 am: As I'm doing my regular scanning of the water looking for seals, whales, and sharks I saw a seal that caught my attention. It was the only seal I saw up until that time. It was swimming really strange and awkwardly. Usually seals stay under the water for about 15-30 seconds before reappearing at the surface. This seal was bobbing on the top of the water about 50 yards out. I thought it was strange and could be injured possibly by a boat or another seal because in my head I figured a shark would have finished it the first time. I went back to laying in the sun.
11:30 am: I pop my head up to see what that seal is up to and right when I look at the water I notice the seal is a lot closer and then I see a dorsal and tailfin of a shark descending back into the water very close the shore. It was swimming away from the seal. I was frantically trying to find my phone in order to record it if it came back up. I started walking towards where the seal was in the water to check the damage if any that the shark had done. There were two people watching the seal and they brought to our attention that this wasn't the only amazing thing happening on the beach. They said this was a magical place and then pointed out that there were two deer walking up the beach at the same time. Unbelievable. While my girlfriend was filming Bambi and her mother, I couldn't take my focus off the water because I knew the shark would be back to finish his meal.
11:40 am: While watching the seal it was easy to see that it was doomed. It had came to shore probably hoping to get away from the shark. Its intestines were fully exposed and flapping around with the waves. You could see the air and water being blown out of the huge hole in its mid section when it tried to breathe. In my mind there was no way this seal could survive. It was weak and just rolling in with the waves.
11:45 am: The first pass the shark made at the seal seemed like the water was a little too shallow for the shark. The shallow water made for a great visual of the sharks fins and size. The shark stayed around this area for a while but the seal had made it to shore out of reach of the shark.
11:55 am: By this time the shark had made an appearance near the main part of the beach and caught the attention of the lifeguards. When it decided to make its way back towards where it had left the seal, a small crowd had followed. Some people saw the mortally wounded seal and began to empathize with it, crying and walking away. Others kept their distance and watched from a far. As the crowd grew the seal inched its way further into water looking back as it seemed scared of the crowd. It was this combination of events that led the seal right into the path of the shark that was coming back to check on it.
12:00 pm: The second pass came and the shark seemed to be circling the injured seal almost like it wasn't hungry and jus playing with its food. Finally, the shark grabbed the seal took it under the water smoothly without a fight. After a few thrashes around the water and final showing of a huge dorsal fin for the crowd. I never saw the shark or the seal again.
As much of an exciting thing this was to witness, it was equally sad and humbling. To see the seal holding on to its life breath by breath, and then to end up basically swimming into the sharks mouth shows how powerful and fragile nature is. These animals aren't allowed to make mistakes because every mistake could be fatal. But they are also strong and resilient enough to survive with their intestines on the outside of their bodies.
If there is one thing I learned on this day it's that nobody cares about the deer on the beach when there is a shark in the water.
I posted a reel on my Instagram page of this encounter: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQq_LABHkZh/?utm_medium=copy_link
View the longer version on my YouTube page: https://youtu.be/SyTdPxzPbhU
The Boston Globe used my video and asked me a couple questions about this encounter, you can check it out here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/06/29/metro/video-great-white-shark-feasts-seal-close-shore-provincetown/