Two fishermen say they made the catch of a lifetime off the Jersey Shore over the weekend: a great white shark.
Captain Jeff Warford, first deckhand mate Jake Bowles and the owner of their Long Beach Island-based boat, were fishing for thresher sharks less than a mile from the beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on Sunday afternoon. As they were fishing in about 50 feet of water, they caught what appeared to be a young great white shark.
“I mean you see people swimming in the background and here’s a white shark swimming around,” Warford said. “It was a cool experience. First time I’ve ever seen one. First time I’ve ever caught one.”
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The men quickly released the shark, which was about six feet long.
“That hook will rust out and fall out,” Warford said.
The crew caught nothing else that day but were still thrilled to take home a shark tale that they’ll never forget.
“I hope it’s not my last but most likely it will be,” Warford said.
Chris Fischer, the founder of OCEARCH, a non-profit research organization that tags and tracks sharks, told NBC10 it appeared that the men did indeed catch a great white.
“It’s just a great sign to see the great white shark of the Northwest Atlantic continuing to rebuild its population, bringing our ocean into balance,” Fischer said. “There is more life off the eastern seaboard of the United States right now than there was when our parents were alive.”
Fischer also said that while it’s important to respect the ocean and understand the environment, the close encounter with the apex predator shouldn’t make people worried about going into the surf.
“We need to make sure that people know how to swim,” Fischer said. “We have hundreds of people a year drowning. We have one shark interaction every multiple years.”