Perhaps it’s best that Roger Freeman did not see the great white shark swimming beneath his paddleboard.
It might have unsettled and already nervous paddler in the murky waters off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Freeman, 54, was standup-paddling alone Sunday morning, hoping to catch a few waves. Fresh in his mind were news reports about a shark attack on a seal the day before in the same area – an incident that prompted lifeguards to temporarily ban swimming and surfing.
According to the Cape Cod Times, Freeman did glimpse a shadow beneath him at one point, but assumed it was a seal.
While it could have been, there was a large shark swimming nearby.
Cody DeGroff had flown his drone-cam over Freeman and could see the shark in his viewfinder. The shark seemed to be swimming toward Freeman.
DeGroff’s images show the close proximity of the shark to the paddler. (DeGroff allowed the use of two images for this story.)
Freeman told the Cape Cod Times that he had seen the drone overhead. “I thought, huh, that’s interesting,” the paddler said. When he paddled ashore 30 minutes later, an acquaintance of DeGroff’s showed Freeman one of the images.
Freeman, who was paddling off Nauset Beach, later said he was “still processing” the encounter and added that he wished that authorities had a better warning system in place.
However, he said of the risk issue, “We’re going into their world, and we have the knowledge and capacity to adjust to their behavior.”
Great white sharks are off Cape Cod specifically to feed on seals.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which is studying the sharks, shared DeGroff’s images on Facebook, under the title, “Close encounter of a peaceful kind.”
The conservancy confirmed the species as a great white shark.
Freeman said there’s a good chance that he’ll paddle off Cape Cod again, but he couldn’t say when.
–Images used with permission of Cody DeGroff Photography