Dana Point whale rescuer recalls saving great white shark

DANA POINT, Calif. (KABC) -- A trained whale rescuer on Friday shared his story of saving a great white shark caught up in fishing wire off the coast of Dana Point.

Chris Pica said he is still in disbelief over a chance second encounter with a great white shark.

The boat captain for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale watching was out on the water with friends last week, hoping to spot some of the sharks from recent sightings.

"After 20 minutes, there's 10 great white sharks...All of them were just outside the surf line," Pica recalled.

He had seen one of the sharks before. In March of 2016, he saw a great white entangled in a fishing line and steel wire. He told his friend to hold his beer, grabbed a gaff and leaped into action.

"I got a clean shot and managed to twist it and this thing lit up, and he drug me around the bow. Next thing you know, I'm like, 'Mindy, grab my feet, quick.'"

"All of a sudden, it kind of freaked out, and I thought he was going in for sure," said Brian Pifer, Pica's friend.

The captain held on, and he eventually managed to cut the shark loose of all the wire before it swam away.

Pica's a member of the NOAA Whale Disentanglement Team - but this was different.

"He was about a 7-foot long great white and I was about 2 feet from him," he said.

Despite the danger, Pica said he would do it again.

Great white sharks are protected and catching them is illegal.
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