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Great White Shark In Manhattan Beach Caught, Then Swam Right Under Swimmer (VIDEO)

09/06/2012 04:39 pm 16:39:56 | Updated Sep 06, 2012

It's perhaps the scariest thing that can happen in the water. A great white shark swam right under a swimmer at a Southern California beach Tuesday.

The shark, estimated to be about 8 to 9 feet, was initially caught by an angler who was fishing for bat rays on the Manhattan Beach Pier, Patch reports. The area is very popular as a swimming and surfing spot.

When the fisherman realized he had accidentally hooked the state-protected species, he called over Eric Martin, director of the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium. Unlike the Manhattan Beach fisherman in July who reportedly wanted to keep the great white that he caught (prompting calls to the police), this angler willingly cut the big guy loose.

But before he did, Martin was able to snap the above photo of the shark with his mouth wide above. Then, in an amazing close call, the shark swam right under an unaware swimmer. The swimmer--who was not harmed--was about 6 feet tall, which is how Martin gauged the size of the shark.

Martin told CBS that now that great whites are federally protected, there have been more sightings in Southern California.

And even though some people get really scared, others "feel really blessed" when they see one, Martin told local online news site, Easy Reader. "This is a special thing," he commented.

Just last month, a great white was also spotted at Venice Beach and another was spotted at Leadbetter Point, a popular surfing spot in Santa Barbara.

Despite the reported uptick in sightings, a recent estimate found that there are less than 350 adult great white sharks left off the west coast, partly due to sharks dying in fishermen's nets. In an effort to save these sharks, nonprofits Oceana, Center for Biological Diversity and Shark Stewards sent a letter last month requesting that west coast great whites be listed as endangered species.

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