Officials in Washington state are warning coastal residents to stay out of the water after finding a seal that was bitten in half by a great white shark.

The harbour seal was discovered last week in the community of Ocean Shores with a clean bite right below its ribcage.

It was sent for a necropsy in California, which confirmed the seal met its grisly end in the jaws of a great white.

The state Fish and Wildlife Department fears the shark could still be lurking off the coast, and it has alerted local police about the discovery.

“I would stay out of the water for a while,” spokesman Craig Bartlett told KOMO News.

Based on the size of the bite marks, officials believe the shark is about 18 feet long.

A second seal was found dead over the weekend but officials have confirmed it wasn’t killed by a shark.

Ocean Shores police told KOMO they advise people to stay out of the water anyway due to dangerous rip tides.

With files from The Associated Press