Josh Robb’s weekend crabbing trip turned unforgettable Saturday.
In what wildlife officials described as an uncommon event, Robb watched a shark attack a seal on the Columbia River off Hammond, near the mouth of the river.
Robb told KGW News that his father-in-law was the first to spot an injured seal and blood in the water. When they noticed something else trying to get at the seal, Robb pulled out his camera and recorded the gory scene from just 15 yards away.
“Whoa! That’s a great white!” Robb exclaims in the video as the shark pokes its dorsal fin out of the water. He said the shark was about 12 to 15 feet long. He suspects it was a great white shark.
Several biologists at Oregon Department Fish & Wildlife who reviewed the video can’t confirm the shark’s species.
“Based on the video — which is a little grainy and not the best video — what they determined was it was either a salmon shark or small great white shark,” said Rick Hargrave, spokesman for Fish & Wildlife.
Both species look similar and belong to the same mackerel shark family, but typically salmon sharks don’t grow as big as great whites.
“You see the nose come partially out of the water, and it kind of goes forward so you can see a little bit of dorsal and tail. And then it kind of just goes under water with the seal,” Hargrave said.
Salmon sharks follow schools of salmon up the coast up to Alaska. They sometimes hunt seals, too, he added.
“I don’t think it’s very common to see sharks in the area of the Columbia River, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Hargrave said.
The shark that attacked a surfer near Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast last month is believed to have been a great white.