Anglers put fishing aside when 22-foot shark appears behind boat

Fishing was enjoyable, but when a massive shark materialized in the wavering depths, rising toward the stern, anglers aboard a small boat forgot all about the mackerel they had been catching.

The unforgettable encounter occurred Sunday off Cape Cod, Mass., where Jeremy Ballantine and friends had been waiting for bites. The appearance of what they assumed was a great white shark was brief, but it was captured on video.

“We were in a 22-foot boat, and the shark was the same length,” Ballantine told GrindTV.

Ballantine said the harbormaster confirmed the species as a great white, but several people on Facebook claimed it was a basking shark.

John Chisholm of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries later told MassLive that it was a basking shark.

Said Ballantine: “We were told it was confirmed as a white shark in the beginning, but there are quite a few people saying it could possibly be a basking shark. I am no shark expert by any means. I just know it was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in the water.”

Great white sharks visit the Cape Cod area, to feed on seals, from late May through early fall. Basking shark sightings are rare, occur sporadically.

Basking sharks can measure to 30-plus feet, but are docile plankton eaters. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Basking sharks are the second-largest living fish, after whale sharks, and can measure to 30-plus feet. Basking sharks, found in temperate waters around the world, feed primarily on plankton and pose no threat to humans.

Toward the end of the video, a taught fishing line is visible as the shark veers and swims downward, making it look as though it had been hooked. Ballantine, though, said that was merely a line he had left in the water when the shark arrived.

“We were catching mackerel in about 50 feet of water and the shark swim right up to where my line entered the water,” Ballantine said. “I was too busy calling everybody over to see it and I didn’t even reel in until he started to swim off.”

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