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In a dramatic close call, a big shark grabs a fish and surprises boaters in Cape Cod Bay

Video shows sudden encounter with a shark in Cape Cod Bay
Courtesy: Doug Nelson

There’s always a bigger fish.

An expedition in Cape Cod Bay found that out in a remarkable fashion Saturday when a shark launched itself out of the water mere feet behind a fishing boat as the people on board were reeling in a catch.

Doug Nelson was on the boat recording a video when the sudden incident happened. They had hooked a couple of big stripers and were bringing them in, so he moved in closer with the video camera, he said.

That’s when, without warning, the shark suddenly went after one of the stripers, its attack so swift and so close that the shark’s tail hit the boat’s stern.

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As for the the striper, the shark only got half of it.

“We actually ate the other half last night for dinner,” Nelson said Sunday morning. “It was pretty good.”

Nelson, who is from Franklin, said the shark was estimated to be about 15 feet.

Marc Costa, the vessel’s skipper, said the shark was “less than four feet” from the boat, which sails out of Orleans as part of the Columbia Sportfishing company.

“They don’t get any closer than that,” said Costa on Sunday.

He said he saw a shark go after a fish on a line during a charter two weeks ago, but that happened 70 feet from the boat.

The shark that approached his boat Saturday slapped its tail on the stern after diving at the fish, scattering members of the charter, who had been closely watching the fishing.

The group clamored over the predator’s sudden appearance, and Costa said despite the initial shock, it was an exciting experience.

“After about a minute, everyone was pretty happy to have seen it,” he said.

Costa estimated he encounters sharks on one of every 10 trips. Normally, according to data from the Conservancy’s Sharktivity app, more shark sightings are made outside the bay, along the Cape Cod National Seashore, although a confirmed shark sighting also occurred near Plymouth on Saturday.

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Peter Bailey-Wells can be reached at peter.bailey-wells@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells. Globe Correspondent Jordan Frias contributed to this report.