A shark, dozens of U.S. Coast Guard members and an inflatable unicorn are all safe after what could have been a disastrous encounter in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday.
About 30-40 crew members on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball were swimming in the ocean after a long day when, what appears to be a 6 to 8-foot longfin mako or pelagic thresher shark was spotted swimming towards the crew, according to Military.com.
That’s when Maritime Enforcement Specialist 1st Class Samuel Cintron, who was on shark watch, took aim and opened fire with a ”well-aimed burst right at/on top of the shark to protect shipmates just feet away” from the crew.
Yes, shark watch is a real thing. Coast Guard and Navy vessels have personnel on designated shark and polar bear watches, Military.com reported.
The shark was roughly 30-feet away when Cintron opened fire, according to a Facebook post from U.S. Coast Guard officials. The gunfire caused the shark to turn away but the fish redoubled its course and went for the crew, some of whom were floating with an inflatable unicorn.
Crew members were angling to get out of the water and used the Jacob’s ladder on the ship, the open stern notch at the ship’s stern and a small nearby boat to get out of the water as Cintron tried to keep the shark at bay, the Facebook post reads. “It wasn’t the panic of the 4th of July scene from JAWS, but once everyone realized what was happening, they moved with a purpose!”
Thankfully, all crew were able to exit the water safely and even the shark is thought to be uninjured. The inflatable unicorn is also safe, in case you were wondering.
“Our goal was to keep it away from shipmates, not harm it if possible. It was most likely curious and not looking for a meal. We picked our location to try and avoid such an encounter but it is their ocean after all. It later joined a few smaller buddies that showed up and they swam off together,” officials said of the shark.
According to the Facebook post, the only injury was to a crew member who scraped his knee climbing aboard the ship. His scrape happens to be in the center, of all things, a shark bite tattoo on his knee.
See the pictures and video below: