‘Jaws’ in Real Life: Great White Shark Jumps Into Boat in South Africa

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Jeff Rotman/ Getty Images

Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), Dyer Island, South Africa

A research boat off the coast of South Africa had an unwelcome visitor when a three-meter long great white shark leapt out of the water into their boat.

The seven-person crew aboard the Cheetah was using sardines as shark bait while they were attempting to conduct a population study for Ocean’s Research, a South African research institute. “Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from [the] side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crew member who was chumming [throwing food bait] on the port side,” researcher Dorien Schröder told the Guardian. This might be the most terrifying thing NewsFeed has heard all week.

(PHOTOS: Behind The Scenes of Jaws)

Fortunately, the “crew member” was pulled out of harm’s way before the shark landed. But the shark made it all the way into the boat in its frenzy and then got stuck between some containers and the stern of the boat. The crew then called for help as they continually poured water on the shark’s gills to keep it alive. The Cheetah was then towed to shore, where a crane had to be used to pull the shark from the boat. After much maneuvering, the shark was finally released back into the water.

Researchers don’t view the incident as an attack on the boat (maybe he just wanted to say hi?), although sharks have been known to jump above water while preying on seals. But Enrico Gennari, co-director of Ocean’s Research, told the Guardian he’s never heard of a great white jumping into a boat. Which, come to think of it, means he’s never seen Jaws, which is a bit odd for a shark researcher.

Megan Gibson is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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