A great white shark that circled a fishing boat was caught on video grabbing its bait bag off Cape May.


Great white shark alongside a boat off Cape May (6 ABC)

The group on Saturday was tagging sharks as part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study. They were drifting near the site of a shipwreck far off the coast of Cape May as they watched the 16-foot shark swim around their 35-foot boat.

"She mouthed the engine. She convinced us to leave by grabbing onto the center engine. We did not want to lose a motor obviously that far off shore," researcher Steve Clark told 6 ABC.

NBC 10 reports the shark was swimming around the boat before taking a bite out of their bag of bait that was hanging off the boat. A voice can be heard in amazement saying, "he took our chum bag!"

Clark explained told NBC 10  it's not surprising for a great white shark to appear off the coast of New Jersey in summer and he sees at least one every year. He told CBS Philly it was an "awesome" experience because he is used to seeing sharks.

The NOAA just released a study concluding that the number of great sharks off the east coast is increasing after years of decline thanks to conservation efforts such as a 1997 federal law prohibiting the hunting of great whites and warmer ocean temperatures.

The sighting does not represent an immediate increase in great whites off the Jersey Shore. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center of Brigantine assures CBS Philly the sharks usually remain far enough from the beach as not to be a danger to swimmers.


The Associated Press contributed to this report