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WATCH: Florida fishermen come within feet of 14-foot white shark

A day on the water in Amelia Island, Florida, turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a group of fishermen.

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Capt. Tony Peeples with Southern Style Charters said he and a group of four men were off the coast of Fernandina Beach north of the jetties when they came within feet of a 14-foot white shark.

Peeples said he was leaning over the side of the boat with his hands in the water when one man said, "I got a shark."

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“I just got through bending over on that side of the boat releasing a fish,” Peeples said. “I kind of stood up and looked and said, ‘No it ain’t … Yeah it is.’”

Peeples said the shark came out from under the boat and ate half of a 50-pound drum – in one bite.

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He said the shark got hooked after it went around the back of the boat and ate the other half of the drum.

“The guy that had him on the rod ... the look on his face when he seen a great white shark, it was just like awe,” Peeples said. “His eyes were all lit up.”

Chris Fischer with OCEARCH told WJAX that white sharks commonly spend the winter months off the Florida coast and move north in April or May.

Hilton, a 12 1/2-foot white shark tagged by OCEARCH, pinged off the coast of Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday.

Fischer said the sharks are good for the ocean because they strengthen fish populations by eating weak or dying fish.

“Seeing a great white shark is a once-in-a-lifetime (event) for most,” Peebles said, adding that in his 30 years as a charter boat captain, he’s never seen a white shark so big.

“It’s kind of a humbling experience when you look down and see something that big three feet from you,” he said. 

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