An unexpected guest in Vineyard Haven Harbor caused a stir for Islanders on Veterans Day.
A shark was spotted swimming in Vineyard Haven Harbor waters. A video posted by Jenn Tucker on Islanders Talk, which showed the shark thrashing near shore, attracted shark watchers to Lagoon Pond Bridge, leading to more people arriving to see what the commotion was about.
The video was filmed by Amanda “Scotty” Borland, who was on the beach with her dog Hamish.
“It was pure wild,” Borland told The Times. “We go there every single day. We go in the afternoon usually around 4. Today it was a little bit earlier. I was there around 2.”
Hamish, a rescue dog that is a terrier and border collie mix, likes to swim. “We were walking on the beach. He goes out and gets the rocks,” she said. “Then we were at the end of the beach. I was looking for sea glass. It felt like the shark was a foot away. I walked up to put leash on Hamish and stayed calm and walked away. There was a guy who said, ‘I just drove over the bridge watching the shark going for your dog and I didn’t think you were going to see it’.”
Borland said at first she thought it was a dolphin. “He got beached a little bit and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I think he got beached.’ I’m glad he got stuck there because that gave me a chance to get out of there.”
Borland is concerned that the shark may be injured. “There was no reason for him to come to shore. He seemed injured and hungry,” she said. She reported the shark to the police.
Excited shark watchers whipped out their phones to take a photo of the animal and some children started singing the “Jaws” theme. Some people tried to get a better look by launching a drone and others hopped onto their boat. At some points, traffic on the bridge halted as people slowed down to ask “what’s going on?”
Greg Skomal, a state shark biologist, looked at the video, photos and consulted with a colleague. “We are 100% sure it is a porbeagle,” Skomal told The Times.
The shark swam in a circular pattern, occasionally going near the bridge or toward Eastville Beach waters.
Steve Kohler, who was using his cell phone to try and capture a photo, told The Times: “Incredibly exciting and glad I was on dry land and not at risk of getting eaten.”
Doug Abdelnour, owner of Nancy’s, was one of the people who rushed over after seeing the Islanders Talk post.
“It’s just unbelievable. We saw it on Islanders Talk first and just drove over and it’s right there. There it is, right there. Looks like it’s headed over to get closer to that seal — see the seal right there?” Abdelnour said, pointing at the black animal that dipped into waters near Eastville Beach as the shark approached. “That’s a little frightening, right there.”
Abdelnour said he usually doesn’t see sharks in the Vineyard Haven area.
Lisa Roberts-Moreis, a born-and-raised Oak Bluffs resident, came to see what the fuss was about while driving. “I thought maybe something else was going on and I pulled over and I heard somebody go ‘shark!’” she said “I looked over and I couldn’t believe it.”
Roberts-Moreis said she has “never seen that in my life.” “Only on ‘Jaws,’” she added.
Borland, who took the video that was posted, was still on an adrenaline rush hours later. “It’s a great way to end a crazy summer,” she said. “It’s so surreal to me. I felt like that was an amazing experience to have. I never ever came that close to a shark.”
George Brennan, Dave Plath and Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.