Cape Cod has had its first shark attack since 2012. A man was bitten by a shark on Wednesday while swimming off the coast of Cape Cod. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he was treated for puncture wounds. The victim is 61 years old and suffered wounds to his torso and legs.
The attack took place around 4 p.m. Truro Fire Department Chief Timothy Collins told press that the victim was conscious and able to speak with his rescuers.
“We’re hoping for the best,” He said.
The victim’s name and hometown have not been released to the media. At this time, the police are calling the shark attack unconfirmed. However, “No Swimming” signs now dot the beaches, which have been closed until further notice.
As TIME reports, this has not been the first shark incident in the area this summer. There have been multiple shark sightings, including several great whites. The species is best known for the film Jaws, though the sharks observed were most likely hunting for seal. The beaches around the Cape Cod area are home to a popular feeding ground for seals. Witnesses said that they saw at least 10 seals in the area minutes before the attack.
Swimmer suffers puncture wounds to his legs and torso in a shark attack at Cape Cod https://t.co/kGaiu4ZzRy
— TIME (@TIME) August 16, 2018
While some witnesses claim they saw the victim swimming far offshore, a report from CNN says the man was standing only 30ft from land when the attack occurred. At this time, his condition is not known.
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said that shark attacks that cause injuries are terrifying, but also rare.
“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,” the group said in a statement they released after the attack. “Sharks ‘test the waters’ with their teeth, much like we use our hands. It’s how they determine if what they encounter is prey or something to avoid.”
The last shark fatality in Massachusetts was in 1936. A man from Colorado was badly injured in 2015, needing 47 stitches to close the wounds he suffered when he was attacked off Ballston Beach in Truro, the last Cape Cod site to have a shark attack before Wednesday.
Two children were attacked off the coast of Long Island, New York, last month. Investigators are still trying to figure out if the attack was from a shark.