A paddleboarder recently experienced a harrowing close encounter with a great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod, coming within a few feet of one of the hundreds of predatory fish that call the region their home each summer.
Terence Roche set out on his board off Nauset Beach in Orleans on Friday, according to the Boston Globe, when the unusual rendezvous unfolded. As he plied his way through the waves, Roche had no idea that a great white shark was nearby, until he spotted a plane piloted by Wayne Davis circling overhead.
“Then I saw the spotter plane, and the plane isn’t out there looking for me. I was in the center of the plane’s circle, so I got out of the water.”
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) October 8, 2016
Davis works hand-in-hand with the non-profit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which is currently in the midst of funding the third year of a population study focused on the white sharks that aggregate seasonally off Cape Cod. A critical component of the study, Davis guides the conservancy’s research vessel towards the sharks that he spots from the air, enabling the group to continue their work. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, his unique view of the cape has yielded a number of incomparable images of the area’s itinerant white shark population.
— Cape Cod Chronicle (@CCCNewsroom) October 5, 2016
Roche had only been in the ocean a half hour when Davis’ plane made its appearance, and he had little idea that one of the predatory fish was so close at hand, as Fox News notes. Just a week earlier, the paddleboarder had experienced his first ever encounter with one of the species, despite the fact that the conservancy identified over 140 individual white sharks off the cape last year.
“To be honest, I had had my first-ever encounter with a shark about a week prior to this in that same area… It was like time slowed down a little. I tried to stay calm, but I definitely got out of the water.”
It was only when Roche’s wife, Susandra, showed him Davis’ pictures, which were posted to the conservancy’s social media platforms on Saturday, that the paddleboarder realized how close he had come to one of the cape’s most iconic predators. Davis’ photos depict Roche paddling just a few yards from the white shark, and in one he even approached the animal from behind as he made his way to shore.
Incredible aerial images by our spotter pilot Wayne Davis of a white shark close to a stand up paddle boarder off Nauset Beach yesterday. pic.twitter.com/7uKga1lncj
— Atlantic White Shark (@A_WhiteShark) October 8, 2016
Davis commented on the conservancy’s Facebook post, noting that as he watched Roche move steadily toward shore, he feared the paddleboarder would run afoul of the shark.
“I was quite certain that the surfer was about to run into the shark. Although sharks swim w/little apparent effort, they are moving @ a fair rate…..so luckily they didn’t rendezvous. Even though the water was fairly clear @ this spot, the shark paid no attention to the surfer.”
— Atlantic White Shark (@A_WhiteShark) October 6, 2016
The shark photographed by Davis was hardly the only one he spotted near Roche as he paddled; in fact, four other great whites were swimming nearby. According to the pilot, however, the sharks are hardly concerned with the presence of humans in their habitat, despite their predilection for shallow waters.
“I saw many sharks right near Nauset Beach, but they’re not looking for people. They’re looking for their next high calorie meal, and here that’s seals.”
In the next few months, the conservancy’s third season on the water draws to a close, yet for the ensuing few weeks, and the next two years, the presence of Davis’ plane overhead will continue to alert wary beachgoers that they are hardly alone in the Cape Cod surf, which in the summer belongs to great white sharks as much as it does their human counterparts.