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Extremely rare 25-foot shark spotted in Puget Sound

Grace Coale of Edmonds had a close encounter with a rare 25-foot basking shark in Puget Sound over the weekend. (Photo: Grace Coale)
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While millions are tuning in to watch Discovery Channel's "Shark Week," Grace Coale can boast of a real life encounter of her own that few will ever get.

The 19-year-old Edmonds native was fishing with her father Saturday near Meadowdale Wharf off Edmonds when she spotted a 3-foot fin swimming slowly towards their boat.

"There was a moment where it was sort of like 'Jaws,' but mostly I wasn't afraid because I really knew what it was," she says.

It was a 25-foot basking shark, an extremely rare sight in the Puget Sound.

Coale says she's always had a love of marine biology and knew right away what it was as it swam by. She quickly snapped a few pictures.

"By the way the fin was pointed, we could tell it was coming towards us. The motors were off and we were just sort of quiet and waited for it to approach us. It could have touched the boat. It was very close."

Basking sharks used to be plentiful in the Puget Sound, but fishermen considered them a nuisance and began killing them off, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. Coale says they're considered virtually extinct in local waters.

She sent her pictures to NOAA, which confirmed her sighting was indeed a basking shark.

"It was extremely exciting," she says.

NOAA is asking anyone who sees a basking shark to call 858-334-2884, or email NOAA at basking.shark@noaa.gov.

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