A Whale Of A Fish Story From Puget Sound

A Whale Of A Fish Story From Puget Sound
PUGET SOUND - Lots of big sharp teeth and as wide as his boat.

That's how a Tacoma fisherman describes a close encounter in Puget Sound.

It was just over a week ago when Bob Salatino almost caught the biggest fish of his life. He was angling for salmon when something much bigger grabbed his attention.

"When I grabbed it, he came charging straight up out of the water," Salatino said. "He was solid teeth."

That's when Salatino says he knew he had a 20-foot great white shark on the end of his line in his 16-foot boat.

"The shark was definitely watching me, his eyeball was right on me," he said. "He just come out of the water he had my flasher in his mouth and he started throwing his head back and forth."

The shark spit the flasher back out, surfaced a couple of times, and swam away.

For reference, the largest fish in the Point Defiance Zoo's shark tank isn't even half the size of the one Salatino spotted.

Great whites have never been officially recorded in Puget Sound.

We suspect, given their range and the nature of their natural history and patterns that they probably do make occasional sorties, little investigative runs into Puget Sound," said John Rupp, Pt. Defiance Zoo's Aquatic Animal Curator.

Salatino's encounter won't count as the first official sighting -- the record keepers need more conclusive evidence like a photograph.

But Salatino, with the tooth-marked flasher in hand, is positive.

"Soon as I seen his teeth come out of his mouth I knew it was a white shark," he said.

Was he scared?

"I've fished all my life and I really don't get that excited," he said. But is looking forward to another encounter?

"The shark business is over for me as far as I'm concerned," he said.

There are other sharks this big in Puget Sound, and other sharks that exhibit this kind of behavior. But the Point Defiance aquatic curator says that a great white is the only shark that fits all of Salatino's description.

By the way, Salatino is retired after working nearly 40 years for the aquarium at Point Defiance, and he's described as someone who really knows his fish.