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Great White Shark Spotted Off Rockaway Beach

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A giant fin cutting through the waves is not something you want to see at the beach this summer.

But as CBS 2's Matt Kozar reported, a great white shark made an appearance just a mile off shore in Queens over the weekend.

"As long as it doesn't go anywhere near me, I'm good," said swimmer Chris Francisco.

"I think it's pretty cool," another beachgoer said.

Great White Shark
Great White Shark off Rockaway Beach (Credit: Fisherman Steve Fernandez)

Steven Fernandez and his friends caught the baby great white off Rockaway Beach Sunday.

"I figure it was probably around 80 pounds," Fernandez told 1010 WINS.

Fernandez works on a boat that takes people deep sea fishing.

"To see one five inches from your face about a mile from where you swim. It was humbling," he said.

They also spotted a larger shark swimming nearby.

Great White Shark
Great White Shark off Rockaway Beach (Credit: Fisherman Steve Fernandez)

"You know, when you see something like that, even the big one we saw, I mean, it's just so awesome," Fernandez said. "Even if I fell into the water, I was so amped up on adrenaline."

Fernandez and his friends tagged and released the shark.

While the experience might have been awe-inspiring for Fernandez and his friends, beachgoers weren't too pleased with the news.

"What are sharks doing so close to us, and why are they here?" asked swimmer Damani Lomas.

Fernandez explained shark sightings aren't too unusual around this time of year.

"Right now off Rockaway, there's a lot of bait called bunker, so they come in right into the shallow water and they eat," he said. "A lot of people are freaking out, but it's a real good sign. I'd rather see whales, dolphins, sharks, everything around the beach because the ecosystem around here is healthy."

Great White Shark
Great White Shark off Rockaway Beach (Credit: Fisherman Steve Fernandez)

The encounter came just one day after a much bigger great white shark ripped bait from a boat in the waters along the Jersey Shore, Kozar reported.

The shark appeared about 30 miles off the Brigantine coast. Steve Clark, who spotted that shark, guessed it was about 16-feet-long and weighed about a ton.

"It would swim, circle the boat, maybe go under the boat, come back several times, look at us," Clark told KYW-TV, CBS 3 in Philadelphia. "The likelihood of seeing one that close, it's probably never gonna happen again. It was a great event, a once-in-a-lifetime deal."

Fernandez feels the same way.

"I feel like I'm blessed that I get to see this with my own eyes, you know, on a daily basis. Even for somebody like me, I'm fishing all the time, to see something like that so close to home," Fernandez said. "It's just as gorgeous as you could ever imagine it. To see it right in front of you and to watch it swim away, it was absolutely awesome."

Fernandez said he released the shark back into the water as required by state law.

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