What happens when a 303-pound mako shark leaps into your boat?
“You scream,” joked Capt. Tom Rostron Jr. of Wall after having such an encounter in his 31-foot sport fishing boat. “At first there’s fear he’s going to kill you ’cause his teeth are chewing everything in the boat,” Rostron said.
Rostron and fellow fisherman Clint Simek were shark fishing 2½ hours east of Manasquan Inlet on Tuesday when the shark leaped out of the water and landed in the bow of their boat.
It then proceeded to eat through a broom stick, seat cushions, and the fiberglass decking before the two men were able to subdue it with a gaff and rope.
Three days after the brush with the shark, Rostron and Simek showed the broom stick — now in two pieces — and where the teeth gash marks, some as long as three inches, occurred in their boat. They also held onto the head of the shark, and intend to preserve the jawbone and teeth.
“It’s missing a few teeth,” said Simek. “We found one in the boat that was an inch and a half long.”
Rostron said the damage to his boat, which he docks at the Glimmer Glass in Manasquan, will cost $5,000 for a professional to fix.
“I would like to leave the teeth marks in, like a badge of honor,” he said. “But the floor marks have to be fixed or water will leak through. They have to be filled and fiberglass has to be re-applied.”
The havoc-causing mako was 8-feet-4-inches long. It surprised the two fishermen initially when it appeared by the side of the boat and took one of their baits.
Rostron said the fish became extremely aggressive and started jumping out of the water — a trait mako sharks, especially females, are known for.
On the fifth jump it landed in the bow of the boat. It happened in less than 30 seconds, when a typical fight with a shark can last 45 minutes or more, Rostron said.
“Normally when you fight a shark you bring it alongside the boat and harpoon it, or gaff it,” said Rostron. “Then you put a tail rope on it and shoot it in the head with a bang stick.”
A bang stick is a specialized firearm used in shark fishing to kill it before bringing it aboard.
“We never had a chance. This one jumped right into the boat,” said Simek.
Both men felt fortunate to have not suffered any injuries.
“If there was a third person in the boat it might have been game over for someone,” Rostron said.