Rick Austin is glad he had his camera running while kayak fishing off the coast of Nova Scotia on July 30. If it wasn’t for the footage he recorded, nobody would believe that he caught an 8-foot-long great white shark while fishing for striped bass.
Austin’s video, which has since gone viral, shows a first-person perspective of his brief battle with the shark. It begins with his rod already doubled over as he sits alone in his kayak in Minas Basin, a smaller bay in Nova Scotia that connects with the Bay of Fundy.
“I got somethin’ on, and she’s pretty big,” he says as he cranks on the spinning reel.
After gaining some line back, he puts some pressure on the fish and directs it toward the kayak. When he finally sees the giant with fins swimming just under the boat, he gasps.
“JESUS Christ!” he says. “What the f*ck was that?!”
At this point, the shark really starts to run as the drag on Austin’s reel screams. Then the shark breaks the surface and makes a huge leap, arcing over the bay before diving back in. This prompts an even louder “OH JESUS” as Austin’s kayak spins and he tries to keep his composure.
“It’s a porpoise,” he says confidently. “I gotta let that go.”
With the fish still burning drag, Austin grabs his fillet knife and cuts the line. It was the responsible decision—since harbour porpoises are federally protected in Canada. But it was also the smart one. Trying to land and unhook a great white shark while seated in a kayak on an open bay? No thanks.
Austin didn’t realize he’d had a shark on the line until he posted his video in a Nova Scotia fishing group on Facebook. “Anyone know for sure what it is?” Austin asked the group.
Days later, he got responses from two biologists. One was from the New England Aquarium and the other was with the University of Guelph in Ontario. Both confirmed that what Austin thought was a porpoise was actually a great white shark. They estimated that the shark was between six to eight feet in length, and likely weighed around 250 pounds.
“I’m actually glad I didn’t know what it really was or I may have soiled myself,” Austin wrote in a follow-up comment on the post.