Great White Shark Attacks Boat Off Jersey Coast

A terrifying moment seemingly straight out of Jaws has been captured on video, as fisherman watched a 16-foot great white shark circle their boat for 20 minutes, before it attacked their bait bag.

The incident took place in the waters off Cape May on the South Jersey coast, near 27 mile wreck, the site of a World War II shipwreck, MailOnline reports. Fisherman Steve Clark, who owns the 35-foot boat that encountered the shark, said he saw the animal first, and was surprised at its appearance:

“Obviously, I was a little bit stunned. I didn’t say anything to anybody, I was looking at it, trying to process the information, cause it was quite a big fish.”

The shark, which Clark estimates weighed almost a ton, circled the boat for 20 minutes, at one point “gnawing” on the boat’s outboard motor, CBS Philly reports. According to Clark, the shark kept passing under the boat, looking out of the water at the fisherman as it circled the vessel. The most harrowing moment of the encounter came when the great white attacked a bait-filled chum basket that was hanging off the side of the boat. The shark ripped the bait bag away from the boat and made off with its contents. The chum bag was in place to attract mako sharks, which the group of friends were fishing for. Instead, it served to entice the great white.

The population of great white sharks is currently surging off the eastern coast of the U.S., as The Inquisitr has reported. While growth in the species’ numbers has been acknowledged by scientists, they reiterate that there is often little to fear from great whites, which attack humans far less frequently than is generally believed. Shark attacks are exceedingly rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks taking place in U.S. waters since 1916, according to the University of Florida. Of those attacks, only 13 proved to be fatal.

The great white circled Clark's boat for 20 minutes, "staring" at the fishermen aboard

Clark, of Avalon, New Jersey, and his friends are no strangers to sharks. They work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as part of an initiative called the Apex Predator Program. As part of the program, the group has worked to tag sharks in the Atlantic off the Jersey coast. Clark told NBC Philadelphia that sighting a great white at this time of the year isn’t uncommon, adding that he usually sees at least one such shark a year. Clark also pointed out that he is able to differentiate between the sharks by their teeth.

Video of the encounter with the great white shark was uploaded to the internet, where it has since gone viral.

[Images via MailOnline]