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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Shark Attack! — 3 December 2000

Sunset and high tide converged last night in an explosion of symphonic colors as we patrolled Brewster beaches in search of cold-stunned sea turtles.

At Saints Landing the largest turtle of the season to date came ashore: a loggerhead weighing 63 pounds and measuring nearly 55 centimeters carapace length.  This critter — with a missing right rear flipper and a 26-centimeter bite ripped out of its right rear quadrant — had been the victim of a shark attack.

Close inspection of the wound clearly shows the outline of the shark’s tooth notched in the shell.  From the extent of healing and parasites, such as mussels growing in the wound, we can deduce that the turtle survived the shark strike that occurred at least some time in the past.  Unfortunately, exacerbated by cold-stunning, which dropped its internal body temperature to 39.4°F, this loggerhead did not live through the night.

Three dead Kemp’s ridley sea turtles came ashore this morning on Brewster beaches.  They all measured around 31 centimeters carapace length and weighed a little over 4 kilograms.  Totals as of this morning are 30 ridleys and two loggerheads for the fall stranding season.