A great white shark startled a group of New Jersey fisherman Sunday when about 30 miles southeast of Atlantic City they spotted the ocean's top predator circling their boat and at one point even attempting to take a bite out of it.
"Unspeakable. Like nothing I’ve ever seen before," Jersey shore fisherman Rob Pompilio told NBC10.
"It came up, just grabbed the boat, saw it wasn’t edible, went back down.
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According to Pompilio, the great white was half the size of his 28-foot boat and left scratch marks from its sharp teeth on the boat.
Pompilio left from Little Egg Harbor Township on Sunday afternoon with his fellow fisherman Mike Long and another friend.
Upon seeing the shark circle their boat, Long began videotaping it with his cell phone camera.
"The teeth were huge," recalled Long, telling NBC10 that his favorite movie was the 1970s thriller "Jaws," in which a great white shark terrorizes a New England resort town.
The great white continued to swim around the boat for about 10 minutes until disappearing into the abyss below according to the fisherman, who added that the shark appeared to be more curious than aggressive.
Great white sightings have apparently increased in recent years according to Bob Schoelkopf, founder of Brigantine's Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates distressed marine mammals and sea turtles across the New Jersey shore.
"You should keep an eye out," Schoelkopf told NBC10. "If you see fins in the water, common sense should tell you to get out of the water."
Schoelkopf attributes the increase in great white sightings to the larger than usual number of seals along the shoreline in recent years.
Despite the apparent increase in great whites along New Jersey's shore, worldwide the ocean predator has seen its numbers dwindle primarily due to poachers, who target the fish for its fins and teeth, and sport fisherman who hunt it as a trophy.
Additionally, sharks are often entangled in nets used by commercial fisheries according to the World Wildllife Fund (WWF).
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As a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUSN) has listed the ocean predator as a vulnerable species.
Due to the shrinking numbers of great white sharks, on March 1 California gave them protection under the state's Endangered Species Act
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