A kayak fisherman in Humboldt County’s Shelter Cove survived a brush with a massive great white shark estimated somewhere between 16 to 18-feet in length. The shark came up and took a big ol’ bit into his kayak after he’d reeled in a fish and let the blood out of the gills and for a few hectic moments it sounds like Michael Thallheimer Jr. of Eureka sure didn’t think he was going to survive.
The fisherman hit the early morning water at 6:15 and was catching lingcod. He’d managed to reel in two small ones and then hauled up a sizable 36-incher that he wanted to keep so he used his fishing knife to slice the gills, let out the blood, and then attach the fish to his clip and keep it fresh for when he got back to land.
Unbeknownst to him, there was a gargantuan great white shark close enough to pick up the strong scent of blood within 30 seconds and charge his kayak. He described the incident to the North Coast Journal and just reading through these details I’m fairly certain my boardshorts would’ve turned brown from the encounter if you get my stinky drift.
One second, he said he was feeling good about his catch and the next … “boom!”
The shark bit a hole in the side of the kayak.
“All of a sudden, it was attached to the side of my kayak,” Thalheimer said. He described a 16 to 18 foot long great white shark with jaws locked onto his boat.
“I saw a nose and an eyeball with no soul,” he said. “That animal doesn’t give a shit … [The shark bit] right in the middle of the kayak directly next to my knee and thigh, about 6 inches away.”
Instinctively, Thalheimer said he struck back. “I slapped the thing as hard as I could on the end of its nose.”
The shark instantly let go. “As it started to turn, it whipped its tail real hard and hit the kayak,” he explained. “It gave me a good thump [but] it didn’t damage the kayak. I think he was pretty scared. He turned and split as fast as it could.”
“I was peddling with my feet when I realized my paddle was not there,” he explained. He looked down and saw where the shark had bitten through the rope that held the paddle to the kayak. He circled back got his paddle and began heading as fast as he could toward the shore. (via)
You can see the hole in his kayak where the shark’s teeth penetrated the incredibly this plastic and water started to fill up in the boat. As he was paddling back to shore he even called 911 fearing his kayak was taking on too much water and he wouldn’t make it. Well, a wave came through, knocked his phone into the abyss, and flipped hi mover.
Once the boat flipped over and took on more water it was hard to keep upright. He’d flip it back, make some progress, and the kayak would flip over again. This is all while he’s panicking know there’s a massive great white shark in the area which just charged him in and took a bite out of a fish and sunk a tooth through his kayak.
“Every time I would pull it right side up, it would flip over,” he said. Eventually, he got on top of the bottom of the boat and held on there for awhile. “It was rolling around freely,” he said. Eventually, he explained, “I got off and held onto the side of it…I was in the water maybe 15 minutes … It never left my mind the whole time that [the shark] might be going to come back. I had a freshly killed fish dangling around my feet because it was clipped to my kayak … I kept telling myself, ‘Be calm. Panic is not going to do any good.’” (via)
Eventually, a local fisherman heard the distress call and booked it out there to rescue him. He said he was in the frigid water for around 15 minutes. The entire time his mind playing tricks on him about the great white shark in the area which had tormented him only moments before.
I’m sure he’s feeling incredibly fortunate to have survived that outrageous encounter. At the very least he’s got an epic fishing story to share and the holes in his kayak to prove it.
For more on this story, you can click here to read the original report.