Fishermen Accidentally Catch 110lb Great White Shark off New Jersey Coast

A group of sport fishermen accidentally caught a young great white shark off the coast of New Jersey on Sunday.

Boat captain Jeff Warford from Real Innovation Sportfishing said his party was fishing for thresher sharks over the weekend when a great white became hooked on one of their lines around a mile off Seaside Heights Pier.

The boat party captured video footage of their catch, in which the great white can be seen struggling to free itself from the hook. The boat crew eventually cut the fishing line, enabling the shark to escape.

"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 told ABC 7.

Warford said the shark was a juvenile, estimating it to measure around seven feet long and weigh around 110 pounds.

"First for me. Baby great white we caught today a mile off the beach. Luckily the hook landed right in the corner of its mouth for a safe release," Warford wrote in a post on the Real Innovation Facebook page.

The party were floating above roughly 50 feet of water when they caught the shark. Experts say the catch is a good sign for the health of the great white population in the area.

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"This is a wonderful thing, with sharks in the ocean, that means the ocean's healthy, healthy shark populations, healthy ocean and vice versa," Bob Hueter, chief scientist from marine non-profit OCEARCH, told ABC 7.

Experts from OCEARCH think there may be two sub-populations of white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic, which make use of feeding sites at either Cape Cod, Massachusetts or Nova Scotia, Canada.

Great white sharks have been protected in American Atlantic waters since 1997. Hueter said if fishermen do catch one they should take care with the animals.

"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.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies great white sharks as "vulnerable" on its Red List of Threatened Species.

While it is illegal for most people to catch a great white, OCEARCH has been catching and tagging sharks for research purposes around the world since 2007.

The OCEARCH team uses a modified drumline—a type of aquatic trap—to catch the animals before guiding them onto a special lift on the research vessel. The sharks are then lifted onto the deck, where researchers fit them with a monitoring tag and take a variety of samples.

The data they have collected has revealed that white sharks congregate at Cape Cod and Nova Scotia every year in the late summer and fall to feed on the abundance of seals—and other prey—that are not available on the Southeast Coast where they spend the rest of the year.

A great white shark
Stock image showing a great white shark. Fishermen accidentally caught a juvenile great white off the coast of New Jersey on Sunday. iStock