the unfortunate Mr. Halibut

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I understand there is interest in the great white shark sighting by a charter boat operator here in Yakutat. Here is the story as I heard it from Captain Mark Sappington on the vessel Manifest Destiny, yesterday on the dock. It starts the day before.

On Sunday, Mark had a client reeling in a halibut when the line was suddenly hit by something that hit like a freight train, then parted the 400 lb test cable leader like a string and was gone. This was exciting, but nobody saw the culprit. They were telling wild stories of huge Makos in California that night, joking about big sharks they had seen, etc.

The next day on a charter with several clients, again a client was reeling in a halibut, about a 40 lb fish, and had it up to the back of the boat when a large shark took a large bite out of the middle of it. The bite was quite rounded and fairly clean, despite the appearance in this photo. The shark rubbed on and bit the swim step at the stern of the boat in the process of trying to get to the halibut. The fisherman got the halibut aboard the vessel, taking it out of temptations way. The shark circled the boat for a time, allowing Mark to make a length estimate using the boat as the measuring stick. Destiny is a 30 foot boat, and the shark swam by close enough to get an excellent size estimate. When it's tail was at the bow, it's head was about 10 feet from the stern. Of course the excited clients had added 2 to 4 feet to the length with each telling of the story, but Mark estimates the shark was approximately 20 feet in length with a huge girth.

Mark grew up in Southern California, working in the fishing and charter industry since he was a young teen and has experience with lots of sharks, of all species. He was confident that this was a white shark, describing the markings, coloration, shape etc. He can be reached at if anybody wants to talk to him about this.

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