CBSN

Shark attacks swimmer at Cape Cod beach

TRURO, Mass. -- A shark attacked and seriously injured a swimmer at a Cape Cod beach Wednesday afternoon, CBS Boston reports. The 61-year-old man suffered puncture wounds to his hip and torso.

The victim reported he was bitten while standing in water approximately 30 yards offshore at Longnook Beach.

Two recent graduates of Boston College's nursing school first rushed to the man's aid, using towels to stop his bleeding. They said it was clear he had been bitten by a shark.

"We're walking, people start running in the other direction saying a man had been in a shark attack," said Molly Tobin. "So having just graduated from Boston College nursing, we were like, 'Okay, let's go see if there's anything we can do to help.'"

Several people helped carry the victim up a dune to the beach parking lot.

"It was awesome to see how many people were able to come together to help this man," said Kerstin Peterleitner, also a recent nursing school graduate. "There were so many people helping carry him off on a blanket and then EMS met us halfway through, were able to strap him on a board, and so many people helped carry him up that hill."

Longnook Beach was closed after the attack, but several swimmers remained in the water.

CBS Boston spotted what appeared to be a great white shark in the water near the scene of the attack.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a group that raises awareness of sharks, said these types of incidents are usually a case of mistaken identity.

"Encounters with white sharks in which people suffer injuries are as terrifying as they are rare," the group said in a statement. "Sharks 'test the waters' with their teeth, much like we use our hands. It is how they determine if what they encounter is prey or something to avoid."

The attack occurred about three miles from where two great white sharks were spotted last week. The sightings prompted officials to close Head of the Meadow Beach temporarily.

In 2012, a swimmer was attacked by a great white shark off Ballston Beach in Truro.