July 14, 2008

Shark Scare on Vineyard Loses Its Bite


The waters off Martha's Vineyard felt a little safer yesterday and Edgartown Harbor Master Charlie Blair said the island's beaches were packed - meaning the latest chapter of Massachusetts shark mania seems to have abated.

"I would say things are returning to normal," he said. "There's been nothing, no reports. We had a quiet day."

Compare that to the previous couple of days, when Blair's cell phone got calls from news organizations across the country after a lifeguard in Edgartown (known as Amity in the legendary film "Jaws") spotted a shark fin 70 yards off the coast and a biplane eyeballed the massive ocean beast swimming the same route minutes later.

But in more fishy news, a Boston man will be arraigned after police said he allegedly faked a double shark sighting off Joseph Sylvia beach, which is near South Beach, site of the confirmed sighting.

The disorderly conduct charges against Michael Lopenzo, 60, have some confused as to whether a shark was spotted at all. The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife paid a pilot to fly over the island for two hours on an aerial shark recon, while Blair spent two hours in a boat off the beach patrolling.

Lopenzo's story was told to a lifeguard at Sylvia beach and he called it in, Blair said. Police said Lopenzo told his bilgy tale involving a nonexistent boat.

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Originally published by By O'RYAN JOHNSON.

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