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Commercial fishing boat accidentally hauls in great white shark off Aussie coast

An Aussie fisherman who shared the footage told Yahoo catching a large shark in a net used for pilchards is actually 'very rare'.

Incredible footage has captured the moment fishermen accidentally caught a giant great white shark in a sardine net off the Aussie coast.

The fishermen were targeting large schools of fish, otherwise known as pilchards, using the ‘purse seine’ method — floating a net on the ocean’s surface before tightening it like a purse to trap the fish inside — when they made the startling realisation.

The fishermen working to free the great white shark from the pilchard net on the side of the boat believed to be on the SA coast.
Fishermen were stunned to find a great white shark caught in their net. Source: On The Deck - Footage from Australia’s Commercial Fishermen/Facebook

After pulling the net to the side of the boat, the fisherman spot the unwanted shark stuck inside. The trio then begin to lift the netting, allowing the great white to roll out of the enclosure and slowly swim away as the men watch on from the side of the vessel.

Great white shark catch 'very rare'

The fishermen have been praised online after the video, believed to have been taken off the coast of South Australia, was posted to a Facebook page dedicated to sharing footage from Australia’s commercial fishing vessels.

“This is a very rare occurrence,” Connor Smith, who was sent the footage, told Yahoo News Australia. He explained the method of fishing is very targeted to schools of pilchards and typically has minimal bycatch.

“There is a person on the front of the boat with a torch before the shot is started to catch pilchards that will advise the skipper if any dolphins [are] present,” he said.

“If some are seen the shot [of the net] will be abandoned until they have moved on. Sometimes it can take hours but this is the preventative measure to not catch dolphins. Sharks are very smart and once they hear the noise of the boat shooting the net they will always clear off, especially big sharks like a great white.”

The nets can be about 500m in width and reconnect in a circle, so “there is a lot of time for sharks and other bycatch to swim out” before it is dragged to the boat, Connor added.

The Great White shark bit off the tail of fisherwoman Isabella Sesto's catch.
Late last year, a great white shark bit off the tail of fisherwoman Isabella Sesto's catch. Source: Isabella Sesto

Aussies praise catch and release of shark

Aussies have praised the video for being the “best catch and release ever”. “That’s an awesome sight. Good job and thank you,” one person commented in reaction to the footage. “Never happened when I was on the boat...would have been exciting,” another said.

“When they kick you out of the all you can eat restaurant before you are finished,” someone else joked about the “massive” shark’s pilchard feed.

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