Close Call: Shark Chomps on Paddleboard, Closing Cape Cod Beach

The 69-year-old paddleboarder was injured, but not directly by the shark

A beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore was temporarily closed Wednesday after a great white shark bit a paddleboard, authorities confirm.

Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, was closed to swimmers shortly after 10 a.m., according to the Cape Cod National Park Service.

The shark bit the stand-up paddleboard in 3-foot-deep water, approximately 30 yards from the shore. The encounter occurred during high tide and in calm seas.

"I caught a few waves and was paddling back out and I was moving to stand up when I got knocked off my board," said 69-year-old Cleveland "Cleve" Bigelow "It felt like getting hit by a truck while on a bicycle. It was a shock. I thought, 'What was that?'"

Bigelow, of Chatham, said he saw the bite marks on his board, got back on, and paddled in to shore as quickly as possible, alerting lifeguards and a nearby surf school.

He said he never saw the shark, and was not injured directly by it, but he did hurt his lower legs when he hit the board after the shark bit into it.

"The impact was right in the middle of my board," he said. "I have a huge hematoma on my leg."

A bite mark on his board measured about a foot across.

The incident took place at least 50 feet south of the lifeguard-protected section of Marconi Beach.

"It's a danger that's in the water," said Keith McFarland, South District supervisory lifeguard. "We try to keep everyone close. We try to minimize the danger, but you can't eliminate danger when you're in the ocean."

There were seals in the area at the time, according to Leslie Reynolds, chief ranger with the Cape Cod National Park Service.

"We do know that they are feeding on grey seals. There's a lot more grey seals," said Reynolds. "Grey seals are coming to shore, white sharks are coming closer to shore."

The beach was closed for about two hours. 

Wednesday's incident occurred just two days after several Cape Cod beaches were closed due to sharks. At one beach, a shark attacked a seal near shore, sending nearby surfers frantically swimming toward land.

Staff from the Cape Cod National Park Service, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy are investigating and said they will share additional details as they have them.

Despite the scare, Bigelow said he'll be back in the water on Thursday.

"Next time there is surf, yes," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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