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New Jersey shore unfazed by surge in great white sharks

By 69 News & Associated Press, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 01 2014 12:25:16 PM CDT
Great white shark Jersey shore
SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. -

Despite a surge in the great white shark population and some recent sightings off the New Jersey shore, beachgoers still plan to hit the beach for the Independence Day weekend.

A study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists finds that numbers of the great white, immortalized in the film "Jaws," are surging along the East Coast.

A couple from Berks County encountered a 16-foot great white shark snacking on their bag of bait while fishing about 30 miles off the coast of Cape May on June 21.

"She actually came around and had her mouth around the propeller and the motor," Courtney Stacherski told 69 News of the shark. "We were just like, 'Wow, this is absolutely amazing.'"

Others have also encountered great whites while fishing off Cape May and Long Beach Island in recent weeks, but most beachgoers said that won't keep them out of the water.

Fisherman T.J. Loughran said he caught several brown sharks off the beach in Ship Bottom last week, but he isn't afraid of great whites.

"I love to fish, and I love the water, and I'm not changing a thing," he said. "This is the first time I ever heard of a great white near here."

His wife, Lucy, isn't so sure.

"It does concern me because one of them was close," she said. "But it doesn't bother me enough to keep me out of the water. A friend of my husband caught a sand tiger shark recently, and that freaked me out when I saw all those teeth, but as much as I think about it, I keep going into the water. I know a lot of people are afraid of sharks, but what can you do?"

Skimboarder Logan Sheehan said most shark attacks are accidental and happen farther offshore than where he boards.

The federal report, however, found exactly the opposite: that great whites are more common along the coast than offshore. People encounter them mostly between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer, and off Florida in the winter, according to the report.

"Sharks don't bother me," Sheehan said. "They don't really like people; when they do bite, they'll usually spit it back out. They don't take the whole body."