Skip to comments.Fisherman reports encounter with 20-foot great white off Point Defiance [Tacoma Washington]
Posted on 12/15/2002 6:57:10 PM PST by HairOfTheDog
Fisherman reports encounter with 20-foot great white off Point Defiance
Bob Mottram; The News Tribune
A retired aquarium worker and well-known Tacoma angler, Bob Salatino, encountered what he says was an 18- to 20-foot great white shark in Puget Sound off Tacoma's Point Defiance.
Salatino worked for 20 years at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. John Rupp, the aquatic animal curator there, described him as "a knowledgeable fisherman."
Salatino said Friday he encountered the shark while fishing alone for salmon Dec. 6. He was several hundred yards north of Point Defiance.
"The sun was shining, no wind, the water was clear. I was letting my gear out," he said.
Salatino fished with a wire "meat line," a flasher and a bait of herring. A flasher is a metal or plastic device attached to the line ahead of the bait to attract salmon.
"I was standing up in my boat to see how the herring was working behind the flasher," he said. "The flasher was skipping along the top of the water. I went to let it down, and the shark grabbed it."
Salatino had attached a 5-pound lead weight to the line, to take the bait to deep water.
"That 5 pounds of lead just stopped dead," he said. "When he grabbed it, the line went slack. I started cranking in, and my pole bent right around."
Then the shark "just came charging right out of the water," about 25 feet away, Salatino said. "It had the flasher in its mouth, and was throwing its head back and forth. His teeth were like a foot in front of his jaws."
The shark rolled completely over, Salatino said, and the flasher snapped out of its mouth.
"It had a lot of tension, and came flying straight at me," he said, "coming like a bullet. I ducked, and it went clear on the other side of the boat."
The shark splashed around a bit on the surface, dived, and came back to the surface two more times.
"He was looking me square in the eye," Salatino said. "His eyeball was rolled way back."
The shark was 2 to 4 feet longer than his 16-foot boat, the angler said. It was gray on top, its belly was white, and it had "a huge stomach."
Tawnya Patrick, manager of the marine biology program at the University of Washington, said she had not heard of any other encounters with great whites in Puget Sound but that such a thing "is possible." Great whites inhabit the ocean from California to Vancouver Island, she said.
Rupp, the aquatic animal curator, said an encounter such as Salatino described was "improbable but not impossible.
"I suspect that great white sharks do make occasional sorties into Puget Sound," he said. "It would not be a normal occurrence, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility."
Great white sharks patrol offshore on the Washington coast "pretty much all the time," Rupp said. There are no recorded landings or encounters in Puget Sound.
What might prompt a great white to enter Puget Sound?
"It would be pure speculation," Rupp said. "You can go all the way from food drive to just curiosity."
Salatino knows the incident sounds impossible.
"I didn't want to say anything," he said. "Who'd believe you?"
The only potential witnesses were several yards away in another boat. "Two guys should have witnessed it, but they had their heads down," Salatino said.
Bob Mottram: 253-597-8640
Sharks at a glance
The great white shark, also called the white shark, white death and man-eater, occurs worldwide in temperate seas. It feeds on fish, gulls, seals and sea lions.
The International Game Fish Association says the great white probably is the most dangerous shark, considering its size, strength and inclination to attack. It has attacked small boats, sometimes sinking them, the association says, and has been known to take a "larger" boat by the propeller and shake it.
An angler fishing off southern Australia in 1959 captured a great white shark that weighed 2,664 pounds.
They are coming inland!
Most of these people (academics) are really underqualified, I am thinking that most ordinary folks even know that great whites occur in all of the oceans of the world, not just where that dummy lives.
Remember when, in the early 1900's, a great white swam 11 miles up a New Jersey river, into fresh water, and ate some kids, plus an adult, in a swimming hole, before escaping?
BTW, among sharks, great whites are kind of unmistakable in appearance, no matter their size, only one other shark, the mako, looks very much like them, so, if the aquarium worker was much up to speed on sharks, he's probably right on the ID.
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