Great white shark surprises fishermen off New Jersey beach, tries to eat catch

A father and daughter in New Jersey got a rare, close-up view of great white shark when the apex predator took a swipe at a black sea bass they were reeling in while out fishing on a charter boat.

And while shark experts say that close-up encounters with great white sharks in the wild are rare, they are on the rise — especially this time of year.

Mike Cavallo, 47, and his daughter Kaylee, 14, were on the Brick-based charter boat FinChaser captained by Anthony Grassi on Friday. The sighting happened when the boat was on the Axel Carlson Reef, which is a man-made reef structure about four miles off the coast of Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey, located on the East coast of the state.

Cavallo was reeling in a small sea bass, a popular fish with anglers, when the shark came up from below and tried to steal the fish off the hook. It missed and was gone in seconds. Cavallo, who shares a YouTube channel called M&K Outdoors with his daughter, was filming with his GoPro camera strapped to his head.

"I'm still in shoChisholm, who's been tracking white sharks since the 1970s and has identified over 500 by their markings, said while white shark sightings are on the rise, it's still rare to see one in the wild.

"This is the time of year we start seeing increased activity in the mid-Atlantic area as they migrate north," Chisholm It was so cool to see. It's a once in lifetime experience. I'm so glad the camera was rolling," Cavallo said.

John Chisholm, one of the leading white shark researchers on the coast who is an adjunct scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, saw the video and said it was a juvenile or immature white shark that was probably about eight feet in length.

There have been several encounters and sightings of white sharks this spring. This is the third white shark Chisholm has made a record of this spring off the New Jersey coast. A whale watching outfit near the southern tip of the state spotted one and a party of fishermen also reported a white shark to him.

More:A great white shark nicknamed Anne Bonny, after the pirate, skirts Jersey coast

On top of that, several OCEARCH-tagged white sharks have pinged off the coast of New Jersey since May, including most recently one nicknamed Anne Bonny, after the early 18th century pirate.

Additionally, 15-year old girl from Pennsylvania was bit by a shark near the East side of the state while surfing at the 109th Street Beach in Stone Harbor on May 21. She sustained several lacerations to her left foot and calf and received six stiches. The type of shark that bit her however, is not known.  

More:Surfer OK after shark bite at Jersey Shore; here is how to lower your risk with sharks

White shark populations were so thinned once due to overexploitation that federal protections were placed on the species to save it. Those protections prohibited fishing and have contributed to the resurgence of the species.

Chisholm said federal protections placed on seals, one of the sharks’ main prey, is another reason why the sharks are rebounding, as their food source is available. It will most likely lead to more encounters on the water with the apex predator famously portrayed in the 1976 blockbuster movie "Jaws."

When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072;

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