SEASIDE HEIGHTS, New Jersey (WABC) -- A party of sport fishermen were thrilled to catch a great white shark off the coast of New Jersey last weekend.
They made the big catch about a mile off the Seaside Heights Pier on Sunday.
Reel Innovation Captain Jeff Warford said they were fishing for thresher sharks when the great white was hooked by accident.
The shark was a juvenile and measured about 7 feet long and 110 pounds. The shark charged the boat, but the fishermen say they managed to get to the side of the boat and release it.
"It started coming up and I said, 'Oh my god, it's a great white,' and we got him boat-side and took video and picture and cut the line and let it go," Warford said.
They were in about 50 feet of water at the time and shark experts say it's a very good sign.
"This is a wonderful thing, with sharks in the ocean, that means the ocean's healthy, healthy shark populations, healthy ocean and vice versa," said OCEARCH Chief Scientist Dr. Bob Hueter.
Hueter said the great white population is rebounding and if we all work together, we can get the ocean back to where it should be.
Experts say it's highly unlikely right now that great whites will mosey close to the coast like thresher sharks tend to do.
Seaside Heights Beach Patrol says there were no sightings last year, but they are always on the lookout.
"You just have to be careful, keep your eyes out, we're constantly scanning the water and looking for any sharks, and if we see them, we'll pull the people out of the water," said Capt. Rob Connor.
The great whites are migrating north, so similar encounters may become more common. The sharks are protected and experts ask you to be kind to the ocean creatures.
"Try to handle them as quickly as possible, and if necessary cut the lead and let the shark go, don't try to muscle the fish into the boat," Hueter said.
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