When Josh Robb boated out with some friends near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon last week, he was expecting to catch a few crabs. What he got instead was some pretty incredible footage of a shark on the hunt. 

The group had spotted a flock of seagulls gathering over a bleeding seal that was floating in the water not far from the boat – and Robb turned on the camera just in time to record the big predator snatching up its prey. 

The reaction from the boat played out pretty much how you'd expect: with plenty of colourful words we can't transcribe here. In the video, you can hear Robb guessing the big fish to be a great white, and he later told KGW Portland that he estimated it to have been 12-15 feet (3.5-4.5 metres) long.

Lynn Mattes from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife weighed in on the identification. "I am pretty sure it is a salmon shark, the closest living relative to the great white shark," she said, basing her assessment on its size, dorsal fin pattern and tail shape. "There is a chance it could be a small great white shark."

Robb's size estimate is a bit larger than your typical salmon shark, as these fish don't usually get bigger than 10 feet (3 metres). Both shark species can be found off the Oregon coast, and it's not unheard of for both salmon sharks and great whites to venture into shallow near-shore waters, especially if there are tasty snacks (like harbour seals or sea lions) up for grabs.

The crabbers spotted the shark while boating west of Astoria, near Warrenton. Image: Google Maps


Top header image: MassEEA, Flickr