Great white shark leaps onto boat

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A research team studying Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) off the coast of South Africa got closer to the action than intended when a half tonne specimen leapt onto their boat.

The 3m long shark burst from the sea beside the boat, landing in the stern of the vessel on top of the bait and fuel containers and narrowly missing crew members.

The terrified fish's thrashing caused it to become trapped on deck while at the same time disabling the boat after cutting fuel lines and damaging equipment as the crew sort refuge at the bow.

Getting the massive fish off the disabled vessel proved difficult with attempts to drag it back into the sea with ropes from another boat failing.

Scientists fought to keep the shark alive using buckets of water poured over its gills and then hoses in its mouth while the boat was towed to port.

Once moored a crane was used to return it to the water, but the disorientated creature couldn't find its way out from the harbour and beached.

Eventually the shark was towed to open sea where it swam away safely. It is thought that the shark's unintentional boat ride was an accident with it either being spooked by a larger Great white in the murky water, or mistaking the vessel's shadow for prey.

The group from Oceans Research had been attracting sharks to their boat with buckets of sardine chum to record numbers of the huge predators off Seal Island, near Mossel Bay, on South Africa's Cape coast as part of the organisation's 'Project Great White Shark'.

The area is famous for spectacular breaching attacks carried out by some of its Great Whites on the resident Cape fur seal population.

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