Fishing is a relaxing sport – you get to spend time in nature, listen to the sound of the waves breaking, maybe catch dinner. A group of fishermen caught more than they expected on a fishing trip in New Zealand:
This amazing video caught off White Cliffs on the Taranaki coast shows a massive shark emerging from the depths of the water and snatching the fishermen’s bait. The group was fishing with a burley bag, a bag filled with chum or ground bait that attracts more fish to an area in the hopes of catching something.
They were shocked when out of nowhere a massive shark appeared and ate the bag in a single bite. And the shark wasn’t done with them yet – after swimming off with the bag, it circled back a moment later to see if there were any more tasty morsels to eat.
Burley fishing (or chumming as it’s called in the U.S.) aims to attract fish with the smell of bones, blood and other fish parts. Unfortunately, this often draws in predators like sharks who have an incredibly keen sense of smell.
Great white sharks are one of the largest species of shark, and can grow up to 20 feet long! The fishermen in this video estimate that the shark they encountered was closer to 11-12 feet long, which is still plenty long enough to hunt a human.
Great whites do have fatal encounters with humans – but not very often. Worldwide there are only about 80 shark attacks per year, and less than 10% of them result in a death. Sharks don’t eat humans by choice, and an attack is usually a case of a mis-identification. Humans on surfboards resemble seals, a common meal for many shark species, but we don’t taste like seals.
One reason many people are bitten once and released is that sharks have poor eyesight and rely on taste and smell to hunt. A human may seem like fair game, but once they’ve bitten us they realize we aren’t their usual type of food and often let go quickly to hunt something tastier. So don’t worry too much about man-eating sharks: just stay safe, stay aware, and maybe don’t swim near burley fishers!