It's no secret that Jeff Crilly is a fan of the movie "Jaws." The fisherman from Toms River, New Jersey, has the iconic movie monster tattooed on his arms. Yet he could never imagine he'd ever be in a real life situation straight out of the classic Spielberg blockbuster.
"This is the 'Jaws' tattoo with the great white sticking his head out of the water," he said. "That's exactly what happened to us."
Fortunately for Crilly and his friends, they captured the close encounter on camera — and they didn't need a bigger boat.
Crilly, who has won shark fishing competitions in the past, was with his friends on his 31-foot boat, "Big Nutz Required II," about 30 miles off Manasquan Inlet on Monday. They were searching for mako sharks.
What they found was something much bigger.
A great white shark, which Crilly estimated to be about 16 feet long and around 2,000 pounds, began circling the vessel.
"This thing is huge and we all started going crazy," Crilly said. "Never seen anything like this before."
Crilly's brother Scott grabbed a camera and recorded as the shark surfaced near the boat and ate a chum bag.
"We definitely were afraid of it coming into the boat more because it easily nosed its head up past the silver rub rail and it could've easily pushed the boat down or worse, jumped in," Crilly said.
Fortunately, after feeding on the chow, biting the stern and splashing around, the shark swam off, leaving Crilly and his friends with a memory they will never forget.
"We might never see anything like that again," Crilly said.
The great white shark population is on the rise in the northeast though they are rarely a threat to humans. Animal experts said the shark Crilly encountered may have been a hungry mother who was in the area to give birth.