Great white shark jumps into a fisherman’s boat

By Angela Heathcote 29 May 2017
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A fisherman has escaped an encounter with a 2.5 m, 200 kg Great white shark off the north coast of NSW over the weekend.

A 2.7 METRE, 200 KG great white shark has jumped into a fisherman’s boat off the New South Wales north coast, injuring the 73 year old.

Terry Selwood said that the shark came right over the top of the motor, hitting him on the forearm and knocking him straight to the ground. “There I was on all fours and he’s looking at me and I’m looking at him and then he started to do the dance around and shake and I couldn’t get out quick enough onto the gunnel,” Selwood told the ABC.

Eventually Terry was able to scramble for his radio and call the local marine rescue volunteers at Evans Head for assistance who then rescued him, later going back for the shark and his boat.

great white shark

(Image: Genevieve Francis)

The fisherman was bewildered as to why the shark would jump into his boat. “I didn’t have a burly out, which does attract sharks,” adding, “I was using two little bits of blue pilchard to fish for snapper on the bottom of the ocean, but that line was straight under the boat, not out the back when he came from.”

Given the boat was only 1.4 metres by 4.5 metres, Terry was lucky to come out of the incident relatively unharmed. “He just bounced around in there and he struck my arm a couple of times and I thought he’d broke my arm to be honest but it’s just torn a bit of skin off.”

Following the incident the Department of Primary Industries confirmed that the shark was in fact a great white. 

Jane Williamson, an associate professor at Macquarie University explained that there is potential the shark was attempting to hunt when it breached the man’s boat.

“Although rare, it is not unheard of to see white sharks breaching. This behaviour is usually displayed when hunting,” Williamson said.

“White sharks commonly hunt animals at the surface from below and sometimes they travel at such speed that they propel themselves out of the water. Whether the shark was targeting the boat or something in the water near the boat can’t be known.

“It’s a great way for white sharks to ambush prey, such as seals, and is more common in South Africa. Unlike sharks, seals can manoeuvre quickly and turn to evade shark strikes. The ambush attack is therefore important for good prey strikes.”

Williamson added that the noise from the boat could have confused the shark

“Perhaps the sound of the boat or vibrations from the boat were confusing to the shark. Boats are not targeted by white sharks, no matter how big they are,” Williamson said.

Colin Simpfendorfer from James Cook University explained that while breaching is typical of mako sharks, this is out of the ordinary for a great white.

“Lots of people have ended up with a mako shark in their boat. This is because they are known to jump out of the water, especially when they are caught on fishing lines.”

The experts agree that the breach can be explained through the hunting habits of Great white sharks.

“We know that great white sharks, which are closely related to mako sharks, jump quite a lot when they are hunting prey. My thought would be that the fisherman was just in the right (or wrong) place at the right time. It may have been chasing prey at the time and landed in the boat by chance.”