Watch: Coast Guard Shoots at Shark Heading for Swimmers

Facebook/U.S.C.G Cutter Kimball A Coast Guard crew member shoots at a shark that they say was swimming toward their shipmates who were taking a swim break after weeks at sea.

It’s generally frowned upon, illegal even, to shoot bullets at sharks. But when there are dozens of members of the coast guard swimming in the middle of the ocean and a shark makes an appearance, firing on the predatorial fish is the contingency plan.

According to posts on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball’s Facebook page, such an instance occurred Wednesday when crew members took a much needed “swim call” break and jumped into the Pacific Ocean.

A post from Aug. 26 said, “We share one of the most amazing events many of us have ever experienced at sea: After completing our operations for the day, there were no vessels around for miles, the weather was perfect, and we were a zillion miles from land. We had not been off the ship for weeks, were at that point where every day feels like “Groundhog Day,” and were looking for something to break up the monotony. Answer: Swim Call!”

That’s when dozens of crew members got into their swimsuits and jumped into the vast open sea. According to the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball’s page, they’ve done this before, and to be on the safe side, they prepare for the possibility of sharks.

The wrote, “We had a fully vetted and tested plan we’ve used before, conducted safety briefs, established communications between the various stations, launched our small boat with extra crew and a dressed out swimmer and stationed it 50 yards off the ship, set an armed shark watch, opened and manned the Rescue Station, and put an accountability system in place.”

However, according to the post, this is the first time they’ve actually had to respond to a shark swimming toward people in the water.

“We have hundreds of years at sea between all of us and no one has seen or heard of a shark actually showing up during a swim call,” the post said. “This goes to show why we prepare for any and everything. We just didn’t think it would be a swim call shark attack!”

You can watch the video here:


The Coast Guard Said the Shark was 6 to 8 Feet Long

According to the Facebook post, many people in the water had no idea the shark was near them but it was visible from the deck of the ship.

The post said, “As if right out of a Hollywood movie, a 6-8 foot shark (no exaggeration) surfaced at the Rescue Door and was swimming toward 30-40 people in the water about 30 feet away. Everyone on the Flight Deck had a bird’s eye view. A review of video shot by a crew member reveals it was likely a Long-Fin Mako or Pelagic Thresher Shark – not something to mess with!”

The video shows five bullets fired, then six more, then four more.

“The shark would wave off with each burst but kept coming back toward our shipmates'” the post said, later updating the post to include, “We don’t think the shark was injured. Our goal was to keep it away from shipmates, not harm it if possible. It was most likely curious and not looking for a meal. We picked our location to try and avoid such an encounter but it is their ocean after all. It later joined a few smaller buddies that showed up and they swam off together.

The Florida Museum reports that Palagic Thresher Sharks are not a considered threat to humans and there have never been any reports of Long-Fin Mako sharks attacking humans.


The Only Injury Reported Was a Scrape That was Incurred While a Crew Member Got Back on the Ship. Ironically the Scrape Landed in the Middle of a Shark Mouth Tattoo

Even with sharks in the water and bullets flying overhead, all 30 or 40 crew members managed to calmly and safely get on the ship or the lifeboat safely, according to the Coast Guard.

The only injury happened when one crew member scraped his knee when climbing back on the boat, which the Coast Guard called a “million-dollar wound.”

The writer of the Facebook post praised the person who shot at the shark, saying, “ME1 Cintron… likely saved one or more of his shipmates from a shark attack!! Many others helped, such as the entire Boat Crew. It was a team effort with everyone doing their part to work the problem.”

The Coast Guard also reported it is writing new “Shark Watch and Response Tactics.”

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