Over the weekend, two men were kayaking near the Californian coast when they had an encounter with a great white shark. Danny McDaniel and Jon Chambers were close to Ship Rock, not too far from Santa Catalina Island, when McDaniel noticed that something knocked into his kayak.
McDaniel initially considered that it might have been Chambers just mucking about, but there was too much force for the knock to have come from another kayak.
McDaniel checked below them to discover that it was a massive great white shoving into his kayak.
“I felt like I was being pushed like a toy in the water,” said McDaniel.
The great white plunged its teeth into the back of the kayak and turned McDaniel around until he was facing Chambers. The entire top part of the shark was protruding from the surface of the water, giving them an idea of the immense size of the notorious fish. Shortly afterwards, the great white left and moved off into the deep. The incident was over in about five seconds according to McDaniel.
“I guess he thought the kayak wasn’t tasty and let go,” McDaniel commented.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, at birth great whites are typically four or five feet (1.5 meters) in length, and they can reach up to 21 feet (6.4 meters).
“Since 1950, there have been 187 shark incidents in California involving all species of sharks, at least 165 of which involved White Sharks,” according to the department’s website. “Of those, 13 were fatal and all of the fatalities involved White Sharks.”
How big was the shark really?
Two teeth left in McDaniel’s kayak were used to estimate the shark’s size. The measurements of the teeth were given to Marine Vertebrates Collection Manager, Ben Frable, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.
“This shark is probably somewhere between 17-20 feet long,” said Frable. “It is pretty amazing and encouraging that such large animals are still able to exist out there with fishing activities and human encroachment and environmental change”. He added, “Big individuals like these, especially if they are female, are very important for species’ health and survival as they can produce and have produced more offspring than others.”
McDaniel and Chambers still went back in the water later that evening for a night dive with a group of around sixty scuba divers all with the diving team, Power Scuba.