All this talk about Mary Lee, the great white shark lurking off the coast of New Jersey, has me thinking about this legendary video from Chuck Patterson. In it, we witness ultra waterman Chuck paddling off shore at Dog Patch in San Onofre where he captures footage of a great white shark.
Chuck Patterson captures great white shark encounter on his GoPro in 2010
Remember this? Chuck Patterson out on a paddle near San Onofre, CA and he uses his GoPro camera to capture raw footage of great white sharks circling beneath him.
“I actually surfed the day before [at San Onofre]. I’ve seen a bunch of those sharks for a long time, and I’ve been dying to get some footage of them, and finally everything worked out great.” – Chuck Patterson
Chuck, curious big wave hunter that he is and ultimately a man of the water, sought out the sharks outside the break at San Onofre to get a closer look.
“The day before, I went for a long paddle and caught a couple of waves [in the same area]. We saw two sharks that afternoon and they kind of messed around with us for ten minutes or so. I’ve always wanted to get a good shot of them, but every time I have a water camera in my pocket, the minute I pull it out, they’re gone.
So finally, I ended up deciding that I’ve got all these GoPro Cameras, so I might as well do something where I maybe can reach out to them and not startle them. So, I just went out with the intent to go for a paddle and took it with me with the attitude, “If I see one great. And if not, no big deal.” As luck would have it, within five minutes of being in the water a bigger shark kind of startled me. Then, by the time I was getting all my camera stuff, when I was extending the pole it kind of made a lot of noise and the thing took off. They don’t like that, or at least that one didn’t like the loud metal noise against the board. About five minutes later -Boom!- that seven-footer came around out of nowhere and hung out and was really just curious. It kept doing circles around me for about ten minutes.”
Most normal civilians would, at this point, exit the water, but Chuck stayed with the encounter in order to learn more about them.
“I didn’t [feel threatened] because you start to understand them a little bit, you know? I understood that they’re there as juveniles. And they’re really big into eating grunion and a lot of the rays and stuff just to get bigger, and once they’re around eight feet, from what I understand, they change their diet and go for mammals and leave that area and go for bigger and better things. As far as being man-eaters and all that, I guess if they were that aggressive someone would have already been hit. They’ve been around San Onofre and Trestles forever. We just never see them, but with a standup paddle board we see them all the time now. It’s cool when you’re paddling and then, “Woah!” They catch you off guard. Or, when you eat it, or are surfing without a leash. Knowing they’re there makes you swim to your board extra fast.”
Thanks for the memories, Mary Lee! Wouldn’t it be something if we could catch some (safe) video of HER 17-foot massive frame playing around off the coast of New Jersey?
Feature photos by: Chuck Patterson (left) @ chuckpattersonsports.com and J. Patzer (right) @ jpatzerphotography.com