Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Shark attack interrupts Newfoundland cod fishing trip

Alex Petrie of Kamloops, B.C. yelled out "I think I got a big one," before realizing just how big a fish he was dealing with.

"I got a little bit more action than I was hoping for," says B.C. man

Shark encounter

Here and Now

5 years ago
Alex Petrie of Kamloops, B.C. yelled out "I think I got a big one," before realizing just how big a fish he was dealing with 0:49

Alex Petrie of Kamloops, B.C. will head home from a Newfoundland vacation with what he calls a "pretty good fish story" after a close, and terrifying, encounter on Newfoundland's Bay of Exploits Thursday.

"We were just going out for a day of fun fishing, and hoping for the best, and see if we can get some action," Petrie told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show Friday. 

"I got a little bit more action than I was hoping for."

Petrie, his wife, father-in-law and friend were all crammed into a small boat in the midst of cod fishing when Petrie felt a not-too-gentle tug on his line.

"My pole just bent backwards and pulled me forwards to the boat, and I yelled out, 'I got a big one, I got a big one!' "

But he barely had time to react when he realized there was more than just a cod out there in the water.

"The next thing you know, I [saw] the back of a dorsal fin. And I would say that was maybe 100 feet from the boat," he said. 

"[I yelled] 'I think I got a shark," he said, recalling that everyone else in the boat thought he was kidding until his wife also caught a glimpse of its body, which Petrie said was "black as the night sky" and at least two metres long.

'We were all yelling and screaming'

Panic and adrenaline then took over.

"I didn't know what to do, whether to throw my rod in the water. I didn't want to catch a shark — that's the last thing I wanted to do," he said.

I didn't want to catch a shark - that's the last thing I wanted to do.- Alex Petrie

Petrie caught a glimpse of the end of his line: no shark hooked, but the cod was still there, so he reeled it in as quickly as he could.

"As I got it to the boat, right behind it was the shark, heading right for us... he bit off the back end of the cod, half the cod, and I guess he was coming after the rest of it," he said, as the shark made a beeline for their tiny boat.

"He went right to the boat, hit the boat. George came with his gaff and he hit the shark on the side of the boat. We were all yelling and screaming, 'oh my god,'" he said. 

"It was frightening for me. I've never seen a shark that close."

After the knock of the gaff, the shark disappeared into the depths, and Petrie was able to reel up all that was left of his fish: a cod's severed head and gills, dangling on the end of the line.

"All this happened within seconds. but it seemed like an eternity," Petrie said, adding they wasted no time in heading back to shore with the cod they already had, and the memory of their close encounter.

"[It was] goodbye to the shark and we got out of there!"

With files from the St. John's Morning Show