Great white shark jumps aboard

A team of marine researchers got more than they bargained for when a half-ton great white shark jumped aboard their boat.

The Ocean's Research scientists were "chumming" (luring animals in with meat) in Mossel Bay on South Africa's southern coast, with the aim of collecting data on at least four great whites spotted in the area.

All was quiet when the 10-foot shark suddenly launched itself out of the water and onto the boat deck (above, first photo).

"Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crewmember who was chumming on the boat's portside," field specialist Dorien Schroder said, describing the incident on the researchers' blog.

Schroder moved his team to the back of the boat as others jumped to get out of the way of the shark, which was by this point thrashing around wildly in an attempt to escape.

With the marine mammal unable to get back into the water, the crew radioed for help and soon more researchers arrived and attempted to pull it off using a rope (Schroder poured water over its gills to keep it alive). When this failed, the group returned to shore where a crane was used to transport the shark safely back into water. The creature was so disorientated by this point it had to be led back into deep water by a boat.

All was well that ended well though, with the only permanent damage done to the boat - the shark damaged equipment and cut fuel lines as it thrashed around.

Also known as the "white pointer" and "white death," the average great white measures 8-16ft, with reports suggesting the biggest was a 19ft 6in giant, spotted in 1997. They are often spotted in seas off South Africa, drawn by the coastline's large population of fur seals (second and third picture, above).

Picture credits: Noble/Draper and Rex Features