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Great White Shark May be Lurking Near Washington Shores

Feb 27, 2015 04:40 PM EST

Like a scene out of "Jaws," a great white shark may be lurking near the shores of Washington State, reports indicated Tuesday.

Their clue? Remains of a seal bitten clear in half, found on the beach at Ocean Shores last week, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW).

While the DWF is warning local authorities, state parks and dive shops in the area that a great white shark may be swimming nearby, there are no signs telling beachgoers to stay out of the water.

The dead female seal was found by a beach walker last Thursday, in an area where the animals are known to feed on smelt (a small and common fish).

"It was a clean bite right below the rib cage," DFW spokesman Craig Bartlett told Q13 Fox. "Other than half the body missing, the seal was in good shape.

"After a necropsy, they determined the bite was from an 18-foot great white shark," he added.

Scientists blame a great white shark based on the gap between its teeth found on the bite marks.

Although great whites can be found all around the globe, especially along the California coast, it's unusual for this predator to troll so close to shore.

"Usually they're chasing schools of tuna and other prey often 40 miles off shore. They travel great distances in that pursuit, but the basic habitat isn't close to shore," Bartlett told the New York Daily News.

Experts suspect that the shark may have traveled north on a warm current.

Great white sharks may have a bad reputation, with the highest rate of unprovoked attacks on humans, but at least in Washington there have only been two great white shark attacks in recorded history. Once in 1989 near Aberdeen involving a surfer, and another during the 19th century, neither of which were fatal, according to the Shark Research Committee's website.

The species is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List and is considered protected in US waters.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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