California Kayak Fisherman Mark McCracken Fends Off 'Aggressive' Hammerhead

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By Shamar Walters and Alexander Smith

A kayak fisherman in California was forced to fend off a "super aggressive" hammerhead shark with his paddle after it repeatedly attempted to ram his vessel.

Mark McCracken filmed the 15-minute encounter while he fished for bonito half a mile off Gaviota State Beach, near Santa Barbara, on Saturday.

"It hit the back of my kayak twice and I turned around to see it," McCracken told NBC News. "I couldn’t tell if he was biting [the kayak] or if he was head-butting it but soon as I saw it I just started going at him with the paddle."

The shark was "super aggressive," said McCracken, a 33-year-old construction worker from Santa Maria, California.

California kayaker Mark McCracken captured footage of this hammerhead.Mark McCracken

The footage showed the animal circling round for several passes at the kayak and each time being hit away by McCracken's paddle.

Once McCracken decided to row into shore, the animal's fin was seen continuing in pursuit.

The shark "followed me all the way into about three feet of water," McCracken said. "Even after I got out of my kayak and made it to the beach he was sitting right there…it was pretty creepy."

Shamar Walters

Shamar Walters is a New York City-based journalist for NBC News. The American University graduate previously spent time at Dateline NBC, ESPN's Around the Horn, Reservoir Films and WAMU.

Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith is a London-based senior reporter for NBC News Digital.