Mary Lee, the massive great white shark prowling the New Jersey coast, has captured the attention of many fans, yet for one angler, she has stirred memories of a battle with a record-breaking white shark in the summer of 1988.
Capt. Harry Thorne ran a charter boat named the Temptation on the Manasquan River in the 1970s and 80s, according to the Asbury Park Press. It was from this vessel that angler Jimmy Kneipp fought and reeled in a great white on July 10, 1988 that still stands as the New Jersey state record. Fishermen were allowed to land white sharks in the 1980s, though today, they are considered a vulnerable species, according to the World Wildlife Federation.
“Shark fishing was hot at that time because of the inspiration of Jaws and all that. Everybody wanted to go out and catch sharks,” Thorne recalled.
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Around 11 a.m. that morning, the massive shark swam into their chum slick while they fished roughly 52 miles east of the Manasquan Inlet. As the shark took the bait from the stern rod and moved away from the vessel, Thorne was forced to motor after it to keep up. The anglers embarked on a four-and-a-half hour long fight with the predator, unaware at the time that it was a white shark.
At one point, Thorne believed they had let the shark get alongside their boat, after spotting a large dorsal fin nearby. The other anglers, however, pointed out that the shark they were fighting, which they still believed to be a mako, was behind the boat.
“That’s when I said we got big problems. We got something other than a mako out there.”
Pulling the shark alongside their boat after the extended fight, the fishermen set about subduing it with an array of weapons. One man stabbed the great white with a flying gaff, while another emptied a 9-millimeter revolver into the shark. Thorne related that it took nine bullets to finally end the shark’s life. A similar tactic was used by an Australian policeman in 2013 to drive off a great white following a fatal attack, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
Astonishingly, the battle with the great white spanned miles, as the massive predator dragged the vessel and its crew along in its struggle to survive.
“At that time we had Loran numbers and when I punched in the coordinates for the inlet to come home that fish had towed us eight miles,” Thorne recalled. “We were 60 miles from the inlet.”
The anglers were forced to lay the massive white shark across the stern of their boat in order to transport it to shore, and the scales at Clark’s Landing. Weighing in at 759 pounds, the great white easily beat out the second largest shark caught that day, a 500-pound tiger. The shark eventually was given to a Long Island taxidermist, who fashioned a mount of the great white which adorned a local bar for years.
[Image: Capt. Harry Thorne via Asbury Park Press]