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12-year-old catches great white shark while fishing in Florida

(NEW YORK) — A 12-year-old boy from Massachusetts caught a great white shark while on a fishing charter in Florida.

Campbell Keenan spent 45 minutes fighting to reel in the fish before it was close enough for him to see what kind it was.

“We realized it was a shark when it was like 20 feet away, probably, and we had to get it in. We put this, like, buoy on it to make it not go under,” Campbell told ABC News in an interview.

When it was close enough, the captain said it was a great white shark and everyone on the boat was “ecstatic,” Campbell said.

“When you pull the rod up, it was like lifting a 50-pound weight,” Campbell said. “It was so hard to pull up.”

The fish turned out to be an 11-foot-long shark estimated to be between 400 to 700 pounds, Keenan’s mother Colleen Keenan, told ABC News in an interview.

“Campbell was doing the reeling and then the first mate was guiding him and telling him how to let the rod go down and then pull it back up and reel as he’s pulling up. And then I was holding on to Campbell because he wasn’t strapped in anything and the great white could have easily just taken him for a ride,” Colleen Keenan said.

Campbell said they did not pull the shark into the boat because there are regulations in the U.S. against taking great whites out of the water, as the captain advised them, but they pulled the shark in close enough for the captain to tag it, before releasing it.

“I didn’t get it closer than four feet to it. But the captain got right up there and tagged them,” Campbell Keenan said.

Campbell, who was in Florida for his sister’s hockey tournament said he goes fishing all the time and has been on two charter boats. His mom said they set out on the trip hoping to catch a sailfish or tuna.

This is the third great white shark Capt. Paul Paolucci has caught since 2003, he told ABC News in an interview.

Paolucci said he made a small puncture hole on the shark then used a 6-foot stick to attach the tag to the shark.

“It was very exciting for everybody involved. And for everybody else, it was their first great white,” Paolucci said.

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