WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was a scary but thrilling encounter for a New York City teenager, after a recent shark sighting on Long Island.
It was around sunrise in Westhampton Beach and 17-year-old Benjamin Inzlicht was casting for striped bass using eel as bait.
“All of a sudden I just turned and see my rod bending at a crazy angle,” Inzlicht told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
He fought what was at the end of his line for 40 minutes.
“At that point, I still wasn’t sure what it was,” Inzlicht said. “Then all of a sudden I see the iconic dorsal fin just coming across on top of the wave. Oh my God, it’s a real shark.”
He was alone at the time, around 6:25 in the morning, which left him worried that he wouldn’t be able to capture the moment.
“I’m about to release a massive shark and I don’t even have one picture. No one’s going to believe me and my mother’s going to kill me,” Inzlicht said.
At that point, a small crowd appeared confirming Benjamin’s “shark tale” on camera. He took out the hook, let it go and watched the 7-foot shark swim away.
CBS2 wanted to ask the experts if Benjamin did the right thing by releasing the shark back into the Westhampton Beach waters.
“Absolutely, on a biological level and a legal level. These sharks are federally protected,” said Joe Yaiullo, the curator of the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. “They see you. They are out there. They just really have no interest.”
The sandbar shark looks menacing, but humans are not on the menu.
“I am a fan of Jaws. I watched all the movies. I used to do so many book reports on sharks,” said Inzlicht. “To me, I know that sharks don’t attack humans on purpose, so I didn’t feel bad about releasing it.”
When asked if he named the shark, Inzlicht said he hadn’t thought about it.
“Did I name my shark? No. You are the first person to ask me that,” Inzlicht said, adding, “I’m going to be a little more cautious when I go into the water.”
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