A 5m white pointer shark  off the coast of Geraldton.
A 5m white pointer shark off the coast of Geraldton.

When a massive great white shark circled a group of WA fishermen and nudged their boat, they knew exactly what to do: pick up their camera phones and record their amazing encounter with one of nature's great beasts.

Last Sunday morning, about four kilometres off Bluff Point, near Geraldton, Dan Plunkett and Adam Cloete were twiddling their thumbs, working their lines and wondering why there were no snapper or dhufish in sight.

Then they saw it. A five-metre-long great white shark bigger than their boat, was casually circling them.

Mr Cloete, a 26-year-old mechanic who hails from Zimbabwe, told The West Australian that his run-in with the "five-metre-long, big, beautiful killing machine" was far more spectacular than his childhood encounters with buffalo and elephants.

"It circled us a few times and came up and nudged the boat and boy did it make a bang," Mr Cloete said. "But I didn't feel threatened, it was just being inquisitive."

The men were busy filming the surreal spectacle, when they noticed one of the three nearby boats had its dive flag up.

"We sped over and saw a flash of flippers and as soon as we told these two diving guys about the pointer they said 'shit, we better call it a day'," he said.

One of the divers, Chris Watt, said he dived regularly and it was his second great white encounter in less than a year.

"I've never seen a shark that big," he said. "But you have to expect to bump in to them every now and then, especially if you're shooting fish."

Mr Plunkett, 42, said they hauled the divers, who had been spear fishing in water about 12m deep, on to their 4.45m tinny.

"One guy still had coral trout tied to his dive belt, which is like dangling meat in front of a lion," Mr Plunkett said. "The great white could have jumped out and landed in our boat."

Mr Plunkett and Mr Cloete returned to shore soon after the encounter to stock up on bait. Determined not to return home from their fishing trip empty handed, they went back to where the shark was last spotted and dropped their lines again.

They warned another group of divers about the shark, but were amazed when they barely reacted to their great white tale and reluctantly moved to a new spot just 200m away.

Mr Plunkett, who is a local truck salesman and keen surfer, said the experience had made him wary, but had not dissuaded him from sticking to his ritual early morning surf.

The West Australian

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