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Kayaker survives scary great white shark encounter off Catalina

For The Win logo For The Win 10/9/2019 Pete Thomas
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Video by KTLA-TV

A San Diego resident is fortunate to have emerged unscathed after a massive great white shark chomped his kayak Saturday as he paddled off Santa Catalina Island.

Danny McDaniel and Jon Chambers were enjoying a break from a commercial scuba-diving trip and paddling in separate kayaks toward Ship Rock, near the island's east end, when the shark bit the back of McDaniel's vessel.

"My very first thought was that my buddy, who was 25 feet behind me to my left, was messing with me," McDaniel, 51, told For The Win Outdoors. "But then I looked down and saw this giant snout completely over the kayak, and then I saw its huge body stretching beyond the bow."

The shark, estimated to measure nearly 20 feet, turned McDaniel's 9-foot kayak until he was facing a wide-eyed Chambers.

"I remember him saying, 'Oh crap. Oh crap,' " McDaniel recalled. "My primary thought, meanwhile, was to stay on the kayak no matter what."

a group of people posing for the camera: File Photo

File Photo
© File Photo

Chambers told NBC 7 that the shark "was in attack mode" and "thought we were prey."

However, the shark appeared mostly to have been investigating possible prey. McDaniel said it did not shake its head and held onto the kayak only for about four seconds before letting go and vanishing as suddenly as it had appeared.

McDaniel and Chambers waited briefly in eerie silence before paddling back to Emerald Bay, where the rest of the dive group had been hanging out.

On the way McDaniel discovered that the shark had left two of its teeth as souvenirs. "One was laying inside the kayak under seat, and the other was in the cargo hold behind the seat," he said.

While it was a frightening encounter, McDaniel and Chambers joined the group for a night dive the same day. "But it was off Emerald Bay, not at Ship Rock," McDaniel said.

Ship Rock, two miles beyond Catalina's isthmus at Two Harbors, is also popular among divers.

A week before McDaniel's encounter, photographer Jami Leslie Feldman captured footage of a 13- to 14-foot great white shark swimming 70 feet below the surface at Ship Rock, and posted the clip to the Underwater Paparazzi Facebook page.

-Images showing Danny McDaniel (no shirt) and Jon Chambers are courtesy of Danny McDaniel

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