A massive shark cruising by a sailboat off the East Coast
provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience for seafaring college students.
On Tuesday, student Alex Albrecht filmed the creature from the rigging of the SSV Corwith Cramer and posted it to TikTok
, where it had been viewed over 50 million times by Thursday.
Albrecht discovered the creature while participating in a Sea Education
Association program on marine biodiversity on the boat, which was sailing from Florida
to Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Albrecht captioned the video, "Sailed six weeks in the Atlantic saw this big fucking shark."
Others can be heard screaming
and saying, "Oh, my God!" in the film.
@.alex.albrecht Sailed six weeks in the Atlantic and saw this big fucking shark - Alex Albrecht
“We could climb up into the rigging whenever we wanted, and I was fortunate enough to see the shark from up there; when I first saw it, I was frozen with awe, then yelled down ‘big ass shark’ to the people
on the deck below,” Albrecht told Newsweek.
“I'd never seen one before, but a shipmate had seen one from aloft a few days before; we thought it was about 25 feet long, but [it] easily could have been a little longer; we saw it for probably less than five minutes before it swam away.”
The enormous creature was a basking shark, which can reach lengths of 26 feet and weigh up to 11,000 pounds.
The slow-moving sharks
, whose jaws can expand to three feet in width, are filter feeders that feed on plankton.
The sighting was listed as one of the students' favorite experiences of the voyage on a blog earlier this month.
“There have been so many incredible moments to define this trip, but today there were two moments when the collective Corwith Cramer stoke tank was absolutely overflowing: two giant basking sharks swimming alongside us and whales lifting their tails out of the water to wave hello to all those who tried their hand at whale communication,” bloggers wrote in a post on May 15.