Ida Parker and Kristin Orr, who describe themselves as experienced kayakers, say they were about 150 yards off shore Wednesday evening taking pictures of seals when something came up from beneath and tried to take a bite out of one kayak, spilling both of them into the water.
"It happened so fast," Orr said. "I was talking to (Parker) and the next minute I'm in the water and I just see a shark biting my kayak."
Parker got an up close look.
"It was dark gray, pointy nose, big teeth, big eyes," Parker said. "It was like right next to me. It was petrifying."
Orr said she started thrashing around, which she acknowledges she probably shouldn't have done.
The fish swam away and the Plymouth harbormaster rescued the women, both in their 20s, after a bystander called 911.
A spokeswoman for the state Division of Marine Fisheries says an agency expert determined that it was a great white shark due to a tooth fragment and the bite radius left in one of the kayaks.
Great whites have become common off the coast of Massachusetts in recent summers, attracted by the seals, their favorite meal. Sightings often prompt beach closings.