The sightings of Great White Sharks in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, reach their peak between August and October, but it's not often one captures a stunning encounter between the beast and a person as photographer Joe Mault did.
Mault had headed down to Nauset Beach at around 7 am on Friday, September 20, intending to shoot images of the crashing waves generated by the passing cyclone Humberto, but unexpectedly spotted surfer Devon Zimmerman's close brush with a great white shark, according to the Boston Globe.
He had seen something rippling in the water but figured it was the leash to Zimmerman's surfboard, though that assumption quickly went out the door. "All of a sudden I saw the wake and then the fin, and it was pretty evident thereafter that it was a shark," he explained.
Mault, the owner of Orleans Camera, immediately turned his camera towards Zimmerman and started snapping pictures. He said Zimmerman was aware that the great white was very close to him.
"He was fortunately aware of it and booked his way out of there," he said. "He was immediately aware of it; there wasn’t much we could do. I continued to shoot hoping that it was all it was going to be."
Mault said he spoke to Zimmerman after he made his way back to the shore, and that the surfer told him he had heard the noise of the shark cutting through the water nearby. "He thought maybe it was a seal popping his head out of the water but when he looked over his shoulder it was pretty clear it wasn’t a seal," Mault revealed. "It’s a pretty scary thing."
One of the pictures Mault captured shows Zimmerman looking back over his shoulder as the fin emerged in the waters right behind him. The image quickly went viral after it was shared by the Orleans Department of Public Works and Natural Resources.
In the post, the department warned people to be careful in the waters. "As a reminder to all beachgoers we continue into peak season for white shark activity," they wrote. "As of 8:00 AM there was a near encounter with a white shark and a surfer off Nauset Beach. Please remain vigilant."