ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Local fisherman Wayde Campbell and his son Jimmy have a great fish tale. The father and son were fishing three miles off the coast of Anna Maria Island last Friday when they captured video of a large shark swimming under the boat.
The pair also snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook believing it is photographic evidence of a great white Shark in the Gulf of Mexico.
We wanted to know if this is a picture of a great white shark so we went to the local shark experts at Mote Marine Lab.
“We see great whites in the Gulf from time to time but not real commonly. There was one sighted about 30 miles off of Anna Maria last year around this time but it is pretty rare.”
Nick Whitney has studied sharks for 15 years. For the last two years he has studied and helped tag white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville. After examining the photo, he thinks it is a picture of a large mako shark.
“Mako sharks are in the same family as white sharks, they look similar to white sharks but they tend to have a more slender body like the one in the picture does. Also one tell tale sign in the picture is you can kind of see the silvery sides to it, even from above and that is a really classic mako characteristic.”
Whitney says it is uncommon to see either species of sharks so close to shore.
“Makos will come closer into shore occasionally, the fisherman say there was a lot of bait fish in the area so it could have very well been following those but a white shark would even be more rare.”
Whitney says there is good news for people who enjoy swimming in the gulf.
“We don’t have a lot of problems with them harassing swimmers around here so I’d say you are fine.”
So is it a picture of a mako or a great white? No one can say based on the evidence in the picture. But one thing is for sure: It's a picture of a really big shark, and it would be really cool to be able to capture this on camera -- but only from the safety of a really big boat.