A group of New Jersey fisherman had a startling encounter with a giant great white shark on Monday off the coast of Point Pleasant — and the incident was captured in a pair of now-viral videos.
Jeff Crilly, owner of the 31-foot boat Big Nutz Required II, recorded footage of the moments the shark swam up to the vessel and latched onto a bag of fish bait, according to the Asbury Park Press. Crilly told the paper that the shark was more than half his boat’s size.
“We’ve fished for sharks a lot and never seen anything like that. We were amazed by how big it was,” he said. “It was harder to guess the weight because we had nothing to compare it to, but it was probably about 2,000 lbs.”
Photos from the scene showed the shark’s teeth in full view as it bit the chum.
“Best day ever on the water!!!” Crilly wrote alongside the videos in a Facebook post. “On my boat the Big Nutz Required II. Monster great white comes right up to the boat about 16ft long. Eats the chum bag and marks the boat!!!”
The videos have been viewed more than 534,000 times so far.
The five fishermen, of Toms River, were about 30 miles from the shore as they wrapped up a 13-hour day at sea, local TV station WCBS reported. The group had set out into the water as part of a week-long fishing competition.
The shark’s teeth scratched the boat’s stern, but the experienced fishermen told WCBS they were more excited than scared.
“It circled two or three times before it actually came at us aggressively,” Sean Smida told the station.
Raymond Kerico added: “And then it just snapped like that. It attacked our chum bag, tore the chum bag off the boat.”
The encounter lasted only a few minutes as the shark was not hooked and swam off into the sea after snacking on the bait, according to WCBS. The fishermen told the station that of their 15 years together, Monday’s incident was probably their best fishing moment to date.
“I think it could’ve easily, if it wanted to, slid into the boat. It was like being in the movie Jaws. That’s the closest thing to it. Like, this is exactly what it was,” Crilly, the boat owner, told WCBS. “We wanted to be there and touch it, but at the same time we were backing away because we didn’t know what it was gonna do.”
Melissa Michaelson, of the Shark Research Institute, told the Park Press that such shark encounters could increase, but she noted that it was rare to see such an “elusive fish” off the New Jersey coast.
The rarity of the incident wasn’t lost on the fishermen.
“You’re there. You have no choice, so what are you gonna do?” Steve Minkema told WCBS. “Just enjoy the moment.”