Greg Skomal, a marine fisheries biologist at Martha’s Vineyard Research Station in Massachusetts, was out during a recent tagging trip when he got the experience of a lifetime.
An enormous great white shark leapt out of the water with its jaws wide open as Skomal stood on an extended bow of the research vessel. Skomal, one of the top shark experts in the Bay State, is no stranger to breaching sharks. However, this one came as a surprise.
Skomal had spotted the shark during a recent tagging trip, but was still surprised to find the shark ready directly beneath him looking for a meal, according to Fox News. The massive shark jumped right up out of the water and tried to take a bite out of the bow.
“Did you see that? Did you see that?” he can be heard saying in the video, as he continues searching for the shark. The video was originally posted to Facebook, and has been viewed nearly 500 thousand times.
“While out on research trips, we’ve seen white sharks breach and we’ve received multiple reports of breaching white sharks this year from fishermen and boaters,” the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy wrote in a caption on its Facebook page. “While encounters like this one are rare, this video shows that they’re certainly possible.”
The statement continued: “White sharks are wild and unpredictable animals. This is a good reminder of the importance of not becoming complacent and always staying vigilant when in or on the water.”
Skomal has encountered a number of sharks while working at the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, a division of the state’s Department of Fish & Game. His Facebook profile features pictures of him diving with different species of sharks and videos of Skomal tracking sharks to promote his “Shark Trek,” in honor of Shark Week.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy shared several pictures of different sharks that Skomal had tagged recently as well, including four whose names are Brucie Mac, Seth, Mueller and Snowflake.
“These sharks are between 11-12ft and were tagged over the last week by Dr. Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. The sharks were named by AWSC donors.”
Skomal told the Boston Globe that the entire experience was “extremely exciting.”
“Out of nowhere, I look down and I see the gaping mouth of a white shark looking right up at me, literally within a couple feet of the pulpit,” Skomal said. “It was extremely exciting, that’s for sure.”
Skomal said that part of him believes the great white shark was just trying to protect itself when it lunged at him, the Boston Globe reports.
“There’s an old expression called fight or flight. Perhaps bearing its teeth and jumping up was a way of protecting itself before it took off,” Skomal said. “Part of me believes that’s what happened.”
However, he also believes the shark may have just been hungry and on the hunt for dinner. “It was in hunting mode,” he told the Boston Globe. “It interpreted me, my reflection, my shadow, my image — whatever it was — through the water’s surface as a potential prey item, and it lunged at me.”