Great white shark versus seal; dramatic chase photographed off Cape Cod


Great white shark pursues seal off Cape Cod. Photo: Courtesy of ©Wayne Davis/Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

A Cape Cod spotter pilot on Wednesday captured rare aerial images showing a great white shark trying to catch a seal.

The high-speed chase occurred on the north side of the Nauset Inlet in Orleans, Massachusetts.

Seals are prime targets of great white sharks during the summer feeding season off the Cape Cod area. Two weeks ago researchers with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tagged their first white shark of the season off Nauset Beach.

On that day (June 24), researchers watched as the 12-foot shark caught and consumed a seal.

But the outcome was different Wednesday. Photos by pilot Wayne Davis show the shark closing in on the seal, and seemingly making brief contact, but Davis said the seal escaped.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy shared Davis' photo sequence on Facebook late Wednesday, under the title, "The chase!"

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Dozens of comments appeared within the first hour, with about an even split between pro-shark and pro-seal advocates.

"That's too bad, better luck next time shark!" reads one comment.

"Seals 1, Sharks 0," reads another.

That's the way it goes during feeding season. A white shark typically prevails only when its ambush occurs before a seal can spot the predator and react. Davis’ photos illustrate that it's incredibly difficult for a large shark to actually chase down a fleeing pinniped.

But perhaps next time the result will be different, and the shark will enjoy its lunch.