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Fishermen spot suspected great white shark

March 5, 2011 at 3:30 AM   |   Comments

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla., March 5 (UPI) -- Members of a spear fishing crew in a boat off the Florida coast said they spotted a 14- to 15-foot great white shark while pulling in a large amberjack.

Paul Varian, Eric Finn and Kevin Follin said they were fishing last week in the Atlantic off the coast of Deerfield Beach in the 27-foot Sofia Rose when they noticed something pulling back as they tried hoisting an 80-pound amberjack speared by their diver, Dale Bucklen, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

The men said they saw a huge chunk was torn from the gut of the amberjack and they then noticed a 14- to 15-foot shape swimming nearby.

"It was clear as a day," Varian said. "We all said it at the same time. 'That's a great white!'"

The crew said they retrieved Bucklen, who was about 100 feet away and hadn't noticed the shark.

"As soon as he hit the surface, I yelled, 'Get in the boat!'" Finn said. "He said, 'Huh? What's going on?' He obviously didn't have any idea."

Experts who examined the bite marks on the amberjack said the shark may have been a great white or a large mako. They said great whites tend to stick to areas farther offshore than the area where the men were fishing but will sometimes come closer to the coast to hunt amberjack and other large prey.

"There is nothing there that says it isn't a white shark but there is probably not enough to say it is," said George Burgess, director of shark research at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. "I would expect if it was a mako, it probably would have more puncture wounds. It would have had to be a very big shark."

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