Video taken Thursday morning at the Singer Island Inlet shows three men -- equipped with bolt cutters and a dehooker -- surrounding an endangered hammerhead shark on shore around 9:30 a.m.
Leigh Cobb, who is an experienced diver, captured the video from a boat just off the shore. In addition, an Instagram video post taken by a bystander shows the men using the bolt cutters to remove a large metal hook from the shark’s mouth. Ultimately, the men cut the shark’s mouth free and pushed it back into the ocean.
Cobb said the men were shark sport fishing. Her video, shown below, is a little over a minute but she said the struggle between the men and the great hammerhead lasted 45 minutes. One of the fisherman in the video contacted the Post on Monday, and said the group was shark fishing, but he said, “there is a right way and a wrong way to shark fish and he teaches fishermen in the sport the proper ways to do things.”
He told The Post that “there was a 30-minute fight with the shark (in the water),” but once they saw they hooked a hammerhead, they took it to the shore, cut out the hook, tagged the shark so NOAA could collect data and had it back in the water within two minutes.” He said the group chose to use bolt cutters rather than the dehooker because it was the “fastest way to get the animal safely returned to the water.”
In Florida it is illegal to land great hammerhead sharks if the shark isn’t returned to the water, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s website -- with federal penalties in play as it’s an endangered species.
Even though the shark made it back into the water, Cobb explained that “there is a very high chance it won’t survive” -- and a study by scientists at the University of Miami backs her stance.
Researchers found that nearly 46 percent of hammerheads died within four weeks of being released back into the water after being caught.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said Sunday that the incident hadn’t been reported as yet.
Warning: Two instances of profanity used in the video may be offensive to some.
If you suspect someone is abusing wildlife, alert the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling the Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922 or texting Tip@MyFWC.com.