Great White Caught Off Pacifica?

By Lori Preuitt
|  Thursday, Jul 21, 2011  |  Updated 4:23 PM PDT
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Great White Caught Off Pacifica?

Andres Mendivil

He cast his line for striper and reeled in a shark.

A Bay Area fisherman has a good fish story to tell this week, and this one is more believable than most because it comes with a photo.

Andres Mendivil says he was fishing for striper around 8 p.m. Wednesday when he snagged what he thinks was a great white shark.  The catch happened about 100 yards south of the Pacifica Pier.

Mendivil says a crowd gathered around to see the shark, which was about 4 feet long and between 40-50 pounds.

He snapped off a few photos and then released the shark back into the ocean to the delight of the crowd who he says cheered seeing it frolic in the waves back out to sea.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game confirmed that great white sharks do in fact live and swim along the coast and could make it to the shoreline looking for fish to eat.

But that is where this fish tale gets a little fishy.

We sent the photo of the shark to Carrie Wilson at Fish & Game who showed it around.  People in her office determined the fish here is a salmon shark and not a great white because of the shape of the teeth and its size.  Plus, they say great whites are already four feet long at birth.

Wilson also cautioned that great white sharks are illegal to take or posses and anglers who do catch them, even accidentally, can be cited for holding the animal for even a short amount of time out of the water. If you catch one, you are supposed to leave it in the water and release it immediately.

Wilson said one additional thing about the photo. She said it is dangerous to hold a shark in your hands because a healthy shark is very strong and could easily bite as it defended itself. She added that this particular shark was probably close to death or it would have fought back more and not allowed itself to be held.

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