Plymouth closed beaches Thursday after a great white shark attacked two kayakers

The two kayakers who were attacked by a great white shark near a group of seals Wednesday evening found themselves at the mercy of two interlocking trends — the surging seal population in Cape Cod Bay and a corresponding rise in the number of predatory sharks that feed on them.

Both populations have steadily rebounded in recent decades thanks to conservation measures, marine specialists say. And Cape Cod Bay, where large seal colonies are drawing more sharks closer to shore, is at the center of the resurgence.

“White shark populations are on an upward swing,” said George Burgess, who directs the Florida Program for Shark Research. “And the seal colonies are magnets.”

Greg Skomal, a senior fisheries biologist in the state’s marine fisheries division, said as the seal population has burgeoned, the animals have spread to new areas, bringing along the sharks into less familiar waters.

“As they grow, they expand to find areas that are suitable,” he said. “And the sharks follow.”

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily