Carlsbad man shoots gill shark offshore north of South Carlsbad State Beach

Benny Stowe encountered shark while snorkeling

CARLSBAD, Calif. - A spearfisherman who came face-to-face with a 9-foot gill shark in the waters off Carlsbad over the weekend is sharing his story with 10News.

Benny Stowe was snorkeling and looking for halibut when something a little bigger appeared: a huge blunt-nosed shark.

"It was coming at me... underneath me," said Stowe.

He was towing his kayak about 10 feet behind him.

"I saw the shark come up and I had my gun in my hand already and I just had to point and shoot," said Stowe. "Didn't really hesitate... I just plain shot."

He dragged the shark to shore, where he had to have help loading it onto his truck. It was a big one: 9 feet, 4 inches long. 

"I said if I ever saw a shark and it was close enough to me, I would point my gun at it and if it came closer, I'd probably shoot, you know?  More to protect myself," he said.

He did not have time to get scared.

"I was actually kind of shocked," he said. "I don't know…I reacted in instinct. It was a big shark."

The shark is one that is usually not seen in these waters because it prefers the San Francisco Bay Area. They are obviously able to travel great distances.

It is known by several names: seven gill shark, blunt-nosed shark and cow shark. 

It is not among the top 10 of those most dangerous sharks, but it is known as an active predator that is not afraid of humans.

"This one was coming right underneath me," he said. "I didn't even think about it. I just turned, pointed and shot."

The shark is primarily known to feed off octopus and sea turtles. They are also known to be aggressive.

Stowe saved the shark's jaw as a trophy. And as for the rest?

“Well, I cut it up and I actually ate fish tacos the other night but I have most of it in my fridge," he said.

No other sightings have been reported and the beaches were not closed.

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