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Great white shark freed from angler’s line heads for swimmer

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MANHATTAN BEACH, California (WTVR) - A man fishing off a pier in California got a big surprise when he reeled in a great white shark – and so did a person swimming nearby.

It happened Wednesday just before 5 p.m. at the Manhattan Beach pier.

Eric Martin, who runs the Roundhouse Marine Lab and Aquarium, said such close shark sightings are rare. [GRAPHIC: View photos of great white shark that closed East Coast beach]

He told KCAL-TV that an employee called him outside of the lab when the fisherman asked for help. The man said he believed he had hooked something "big."

As Martin looked over the side of the pier, he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“And I basically said, “Holy crap, that’s a great white shark!’” exclaimed Martin.

He was able to snap a photo of the shark, just before he cut the angler’s line.

Once freed, Martin said the shark headed in the direction of a swimmer -- and the two met head on.

“We cut the line – and the swimmer came right around the point right here – and they kind of met, but he was just oblivious and kept swimming around the pier.”

Martin said the South Bay is a nursery for great whites. Sightings have been on the rise, now that the sharks are federally protected.

However, Martin said more people step on stingrays at the beach – and that there has never been a shark attack in the area.