A great white shark leaps out of the water behind a surfer in a stunning photo

Pro surfer Tyler Warren was participating in a surfing contest in San Onofre Beach, California when something unexpected popped out of the water behind him.

A great white shark jumped out of the water a few feet behind the surfer as he rode a wave – and Warren had no idea.

Photographer Jordan Anast captured the moment and told NBC News he had never seen anything like it, despite taking more than 2 million photos throughout his career.

“It’s the photo of a lifetime,” Anast told NBC News. “I’ve never seen a shark come out of the water like that.”

Anast said at first he thought it was a dolphin. “I’ve seen dolphins jump over surfers, I’ve seen them knock surfers down,” he said.

But it wasn’t until he looked at the pictures that he realized it was an apex predator.

“I would say it’s probably 12 feet, you know, it’s a nice sized little shark,” he said with a smile.

Anast said Warren had no idea what was going on behind him until he got to shore and someone told him. Warren then asked him for a fingerprint.

“He wanted a copy of it so he could show it to his mother,” Anast said.

Anast said in an Instagram post his phone and email had exploded since he posted the photos.

“Over the decades I’ve captured memorable moments for others, but this one was for me. My passion has always been to stop time for 1 second, to capture a memory for someone or something that will last forever and show the world my photos through my lens,” he wrote.

“These shots will always be part of San Onofre history and that’s pretty cool.”

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This article was originally published on TODAY.com

Jack C. Nugent