This week brought us a cautionary tale about getting too close to sharks in their natural habitat, but sometimes a run-in just can't be avoided. That's what happened to a paddleboarder who bumped into a leaping shark in the waters off Florida on Thursday. 

Local paddler Maximo Trinidad was SUP surfing off the coast of Jupiter when the spinner shark (estimated at 4-5 feet, or around 1.5m) leapt out of the water, clipping his board. Trinidad says his instinctive reaction was to jerk away backwards, falling into the water. Thanks to a GoPro mounted on his board, the brief encounter was caught on camera.

"As soon as I saw that big, beautiful animal jumping next to me, everything went into slow motion ... Everything was so surreal. It was so cool," says Trinidad, who was unhurt in the incident.


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Florida's waters are home to many different shark species, and spinners are common residents. The large, slender and fast-swimming fish get their name from their feeding strategy, which involves “spinning” leaps out of the water in pursuit of prey.

"In Florida, sharks typically move inshore and north in the spring and summer, and offshore and south in fall and winter months. This pattern explains why shark activity is at its peak in Florida waters during April through October," says Florida Fish and Wildlife.

And while a surprise encounter with a toothy ocean inhabitant can be unnerving, spinner sharks don't pose a threat to humans – their small, narrow teeth are designed for feeding on small fish like sardines and herrings, rather than larger prey like marine mammals.

Despite some of the usual overhyped media reactions to his video, Trinidad, an experienced surfer and paddleboarder, was well aware the shark posed no threat. "Being in the water for so many years, you understand certain species, and you know a spinner shark is not going to go for a person; they are just looking for baitfish," he tells WPTV.