A great white shark up to 17 feet long generated some buzz at San Clemente Pier as it chomped away on a gray whale carcass.
The whale carcass was towed out to sea Wednesday about 10 miles off pier, said Ryan Troli, one of the captains at AllWater Charter. But the carcass drifted back to shore again Friday morning.
Troli's boss, AllWater Charter owner Marc Levine, called him and another captain, Ryan McGaffin, to get down to the pier with their cameras.
"He said there was a dead whale carcass floating off San Clemente Pier and it had some shark bites in it, so we made our way down there and found the whale carcass floating," Troli said.
They began shooting video just before 10 a.m. as the great white made its appearance, he said.
"It was pretty crazy," Troli added.
"I've been on the water for over 20 years here and I've seen some great whites, but I've never seen one that large," he said. "It was extraordinarily big and it had a bite out of its head, which is usually a sign of mating so there's probably another one around."
Troli estimated the shark was 15 to 17 feet long.
"You might see this in South Africa or up north, but a shark gorging on a whale is pretty crazy" in Orange County, Troli said.
Orange County Sheriff's harbor patrol deputies and lifeguards showed up within 15 minutes to tow the whale back out to sea, which spooked the shark, Troli said.
"The shark disappeared once the sheriff showed up," Troli said. "It was kind of shy from all that boat traffic."
Troli recalled making eye contact with the shark but wasn't too scared because he was on board a boat and the shark did not appear to be in an aggressive posture.
Back in 2013, several sharks -- both Great Whites and Blue -- were spotted eating a Minke Whale carcass floating in the Santa Barbara Channel between Ventura and the Channel Islands National Park.