Authorities in the Washington state community of Ocean Shores are warning people to stay out of the water in the meantime as a great white shark is believed to be trolling the shores.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife's warning was issued after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) performed a necropsy on a dead seal that was found dead and bitten in half. The results confirmed that the animal died because of a great white shark attack.
The seal was half eaten and the parts of its body from below the rib cage were missing. The bite marks indicate the culprit of the attack, a great white shark estimated to measure about 5.5 meters in length. Judging on the location of the bite marks, it is believed that the shark was long and large with very strong teeth.
"It was a clean bite right below the rib cage," said Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Craig Bartlett. "Other than half the body missing, the seal was in good shape."
The seal, a female weighing more than 200 pounds, was found dead by a beach walker on Thursday, Feb. 26. The stomach of the animal was filled with smelt, indicating that it was attacked by the predator near the shore.
Although great white sharks do appear in the area, they rarely come near the shore. The shark responsible for the attack is believed to have followed a warm current. The DFW thinks that the predator may still be swimming nearby and may have reason to get near the beaches. Bartlett advised people to stay out of the water for a while.
Despite concerns over the presence of the white shark off the coast, local officials have not posted a "no water entry" warning because the marine animal rarely attacks humans, but while shark attacks in the U.S. are indeed uncommon, they still do occur.
Since 2010, for instance, there have been five shark-related deaths, two of which occurred in California, two in Hawaii and another one in Florida. Three of these five deaths are known to have been caused by a great white shark. No shark-related death has so far been recorded in Washington State.
Great white sharks are partially warm-blooded animals that can live in water temperatures that range from 12°C to 24°C. This marine predator can regulate its body temperature as well as adapt to different water temperatures.