A boater who has worked with sharks was stunned to see three fishermen drag an endangered great hammerhead out of the water and onto a public beach on Florida’s Singer Island last week.
The shark drew a crowd, and several people took selfies with it, boater Leigh Cobb said. She recorded the incident from her boat on Thursday and yelled at the people on shore to return the shark to the water.
“My adrenaline started and my disgust started,” Cobb told WPTV. “We are seeing a shark blood-baited to come close to the water and then drag it onto the beach. It was just I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Hammerheads are an endangered species. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it’s illegal to kill them.
The shark was returned to the water after fishermen removed their hook from its mouth. Although the shark appeared to swim away, such handling greatly reduces its chances of surviving the encounter, a recent study noted.
The wildlife commission recommends minimizing handling and release time in such a situation, and keeping the shark’s gills in water at all times.
One unidentified fisherman, who contacted the Palm Beach Post, said the men were sport-fishing from shore and battled the shark for about 30 minutes. Once they realized they had a hammerhead, they dragged it onto the beach, cut the hook from its mouth and returned it to the water in “two minutes.”
The fisherman said the men used bolt cutters rather than a standard dehooker because it was the “fastest way to get the animal safely returned to the water.”