What to Know
- Officials are still trying to determine what kind of shark bit a man in the waters off of a popular Cape Cod beach on Wednesday.
- The victim, a 61-year-old man, suffered "deep puncture wounds" to his torso and leg. He's expected to survive.
- Long Nook Beach in Truro will remain closed to swimming at least through Friday.
On a windswept dune overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, hastily erected signs warned Cape Cod beachgoers to stay out of the water Thursday - a day after a New York man became the first person since 2012 to be attacked by a shark in waters off Massachusetts.
Officials identified the victim of Wednesday's attack as William Lytton, 61, of Scarsdale, New York. He was airlifted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where he is being treated for "deep puncture wounds" to his torso and leg. The hospital said he remains in serious condition and said his family is asking for privacy.
Police said Lytton was bitten by a shark while wading about 30 yards off Long Nook Beach in Truro, on the outer coastline of the Cape.
A group of graduate students from Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing was at the beach at the time of the attack. They put their skills into work and helped the victim until emergency crews arrived.
"We just kind of gave him towels, wrapped his leg up because there was clearly a shark bite there," said Molly Tobin, one of the nursing school graduates who responded to the emergency. "A bunch of people helped with carrying down the beach."
"When he was transported, he was conscious, alert, speaking with rescue personnel," Truro Police Department Lt. Craig Danziger said.
U.S. National Park Service rangers are investigating the incident.
Although it is undetermined what type of shark bit the man, NBC10 Boston's Sky Ranger helicopter spotted a great white shark in the waters off the beach soon after the attack.
Massachusetts' foremost shark expert, Greg Skomal, plans to speak with Lytton and examine his wounds to see if he was bitten by a great white shark. Numerous great white sightings have been reported in the area, which is frequented by seals, and witnesses reported seeing seals in the water just before the attack.
Shark sightings are not uncommon on Cape Cod, with 10 reported in the past week alone, according to the Sharktivity app. But it has been six years since a shark attack last happened in Massachusetts. That attack was at Truro's Ballston Beach.
The state's last shark attack fatality was in 1936.
"Encounters with white sharks in which people suffer injuries are as terrifying as they are rare," the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said in a statement. "While we still don’t know all of the details of this particular bite, sharks are not known to target people specifically and when they do bite people it’s usually a case of mistaken identity."
In 2014, a shark flipped over a kayak in Manoment Point, and just last year, a shark bit into a paddleboard in Marconi Beach.
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Nancy Bunson, a witness who watched the scene unfold, told NBC10 Boston Wednesday's attack was shocking.
"I did notice he was breathing heavy," she said of the unidentified victim. "He didn't look at us, maybe he himself was in shock and stuff. We didn't hear any complete words from him."
While there are no lifeguards at Long Nook Beach, it's still a popular spot for locals and tourists, and word of the attack spread quickly.
"I worry about my grandchildren because they go out and they're not afraid," Bonnie Cooper said. "We tell them all about how there's these great whites out there, and they still go out on their boards."
Town officials said the beach will be closed to swimming at least through Friday, and put up signs that read: "Danger, No Swimming." The beach, however, is open.
The area is a feeding ground for seals, which draw sharks, and authorities regularly caution people to avoid the water whenever seals are present.