A New York City angler caught a small great white shark while fishing with friends less than a mile offshore from a busy Queens beach Sunday, just a day after another shark swam up to a boat off the Jersey Shore and chomped into a bait basket.
Steve Fernandez said he and a couple of friends were fishing in a small boat near Rockaway Beach when he hooked the 80-pound baby shark. He struggled for about 15 minutes to reel the shark up to the boat, when he and the group snapped some photos. Then he tagged the animal and cut it loose, as required by state law.
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Fernandez said he's spent his life fishing out on the water and has seen sharks before, but he’d never gotten so close to one.
“I’ve never had one right in front of my face, on the boat,” he said. “It was awesome.”
Fernandez said the baby shark was actually the second great white he'd seen that day. About an hour earlier, an adult great white shark he estimated to be about 10 feet long and weighing between 800 and 900 pounds circled the boat twice.
Both sharks were less than a mile from the shore on a day where hundreds of beachgoers were swimming in the water.
“It was humbling that it was, in my opinion, the baddest fish in the ocean and we saw it a mile away from where everybody swims,” Fernandez said.
The sightings came only a day after another great white shark circled a boat off of Cape May, New Jersey, for about 20 minutes before swimming up and thrashing a chum basket hanging off the 35-foot vessel.
Great white shark populations have rebounded since 2000 in part because of gray seal conservation efforts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The sharks can be found in coastal waters in each of the world’s oceans.