Rare Shark Sighting Off Calif. Coast

Rare basking shark is big but bashful

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The 14-person crew of Sum Fun got the sight of a lifetime Wednesday, April 25, 2012, when a 20-foot Basking Shark decided to hang out near their boat. Antonio Castelan reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m.

    More than a dozen fishermen on an early morning expedition off San Clemente got the sight of a lifetime Wednesday morning. There, before their eyes, was the 20 foot leviathan.

    It was no mythical Moby Dick. It was a Basking Shark, the second largest fish in the world, surpassed in size only by the the whale shark.

    The boat, called "Sum Fun," and its fourteen seafarers came to life, even though it was before sunrise.

    "Once it got closer you could feel," said Marty Hundley, on the trip from Mira Loma. "Then we saw the nose come up and we said, 'Wow, that's a big shark.'"

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    The Basking Shark is listed as a species of concern in the United States, meaning it’s a step from endangered. In Canada, it has already reached that designation.

    This rare sighting wasn’t the first for the captain on the boat, who said he’d seen one a year ago.

    "Everyone associates sharks with a man-eating, vicious fish, when this is a very docile animal," said Captain Brian Woolley.

    Scientists said this gentle giant loves its plankton and it goes where the food is.

    Fisherman Mike Lam said he will never forget what he saw.

    "I was like, wow, this is a mythical creature," Lam said. "I thought everything about shark was scary. It was calm; it actually wasn't scared of us."

    The gigantic fish hung around the boat for at least eight minutes.

    "It was definitely a neat experience," said Woolley. "You never know what you are going to see out here."