A father and son fishing off the coast of Florida recently encountered and were even able to film an imposingly large great white shark, yet the animal in question wasn’t the famed tagged shark recently thought by many social media users to have returned to the sunshine state.
The encounter took place roughly 20 miles from the Florida coast last Sunday, according to UPI. Gino DellaCava, 42, and his 18-year-old son Devin were fishing off Ponce Inlet when their boat was approached by the shark, which measured nearly 14-feet-long. Much smaller than their 50-foot-long boat, the animal reportedly weighed roughly 2,000 pounds, according to the duo’s estimates.
Great white shark circles boat in Ponce Inlet, Florida https://t.co/hOrDFEGVEG pic.twitter.com/8BF2wD6d47
— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) February 6, 2016
Grabbing his phone, Gino was able to film the shark while it was circling the back of their boat. He continued to record as the great white moved to the opposite side of the vessel, before it glided away under the waves and disappeared.
Devin DellaCava posted the video of their encounter to Facebook, where it has since been viewed over 128,000 times. He recalled that he was overwhelmed to be in the presence of the white shark, the world’s largest predatory fish.
“I was in awe, it is incredible to see such a large and majestic creature in person.”
While it was unclear at first what species of shark had actually visited the pair, expert George Burgess confirmed that the animal in the video is indeed a great white. Notably, it does not appear that the shark has been tagged by researchers, making it a relative unknown visitor to the East Coast.
Along the Eastern Seaboard and at hotspots across the globe, researchers have begun to tag and track sharks in earnest over the last decade, studying their migration patterns and shedding light on their lesser known behaviors. Non-profit groups like Ocearch and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (which is based in Cape Cod) have even established themselves as ambassadors for the species, naming the sharks that they tag and allowing fans to track them online. Some of the sharks, in turn, have become media darlings, amassing large followings on social networks.
— Tracking Sharks (@trackingsharks) February 5, 2016
Last month, Twitter erupted with the news that one of those sharks, Katharine, had returned to Florida. One of Ocearch’s most beloved sharks, who was tagged in Cape Cod in 2013, Katharine has been a seasonal visitor to the region, migrating there periodically over the first two years after she was documented. Thanks to an unusual accident of social media, locals were led to believe that she had returned for the third year in a row, though in actuality nothing could be further from the truth.
— Katharine The Shark (@Shark_Katharine) January 29, 2016
As Florida Today points out, a Twitter account established under Katharine’s name shared a Flashback Friday post from a year prior, highlighting an article that noted the shark’s return. Unfortunately, some social media users believed the article to be current, sharing it among their networks under that impression.
In truth, Katharine has had an unusual winter season, remaining in northern waters instead of migrating south. For the first time since researchers began following her, Katharine has spent several months cruising the area near Nova Scotia, even visiting the Grand Banks.
Though Katharine hasn’t returned to Florida, she was located far off the state’s coast as recently as October. Fans speculated that she could travel either to Bermuda or Florida, yet the great white shark eventually turned north, surprising both researchers and her devoted followers, while leaving it to another of her species to visit the DellaCava family.
[Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images]