In a first of its kind at Navarre Beach, Florida, a fisherman caught a rare, 10-foot, 700-pound great white shark on Feb. 25.
Jeremy Utter who caught the fish frequently fishes at the pier, according to The Walton Sun. He caught the shark at about 3 p.m. using bonito (a medium-sized fish) as bait.
A worker at the pier, Thomas Theilman tagged and released the shark back into the ocean since it’s a protected species and can’t be kept.
‘That’s a great white shark!’ (VIDEO, PHOTOS) https://t.co/60JmBVVGtz
— HoumaToday (@HoumaToday) February 27, 2019
“Well when we got the bite, we did our normal thing and let him eat, then we hooked him up and it was probably about an hour and 30-minute fight,” Thielman told Pensacola News Journal.
“When we got the leader close, I personally grabbed the leader, and once we realized what it was, that’s when everybody’s eyes just blew up,” he said.
The tagging and release back into the Gulf of Mexico were done by several people of a shark fishing organization called True Blue.
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“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, honestly,” Theilman told The Walton Sun. “I’m speechless.”
A video of the catch was posted on the Facebook page of Windjammers on the Pier Restaurant & Bar.
“Our local shark fishermen work closely with NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) to catch, tag, and safely release a wide variety of sharks into the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for all of the hard work and dedication,” the Facebook post said.
One of our local shark fishermen with the help of Windjammer’s very own Shark Thomas, managed to tag and safely release a Great White shark measuring almost 10 feet in length. This was the first white shark ever caught off the Navarre Beach Pier. Our local shark fishermen work closely with NOAA to catch, tag and safely release a wide variety of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for all of the hard work and dedication.
Posted by Windjammers on the Pier Restaurant & Bar on Tuesday, 26 February 2019
The shark’s information will be reported to the NOAA. Great white sharks are not usually sighted at the far west along Florida’s Gulf Coast and the catch is a rarity because this is the first time it was reeled in at the Navarre Beach since the 1960s, reported WHNT19 News.
“It is rare, it is absolutely rare,” Thielman told the Pensacola News Journal. “We don’t get that many here. We see sightings of them, but we never caught one. That’s the first one our team has caught. We put a tag on it, got all the measurements and got a safe, clean release.”
THE BIG ONE: It’s what every fisherman wants to reel in and on Tuesday afternoon off Navarre Beach in Florida, two men did just that. The huge catch turned out to be a great white shark weighing an estimated 700 pounds! https://t.co/tUpgYxAqjj
— Local 24 News (@LocalMemphis) February 27, 2019
Also called the great white and the white pointer, great white sharks are present in continental-shelf waters throughout the year but the distribution differs by season.
“The phone here at the pier hasn’t stopped ringing,” pier manager Dorinda Billoni told the Walton Sun in a telephone interview. “All of us here are so excited about it.”
A visitor from Oklahoma, Alisha Day was among the few who saw the catch. Day shared a video on her Facebook.
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Posted by Alisha Day on Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Earnie Polk, the captain of Team True Blue told WHNT19 that this could indicate the great white it repopulating.
“If they’re on the comeback and repopulating the way they should be, you’re gonna wind up with one on your hook every now and then,” she said. “It is what it is, we can’t control what bites our hook but we did let it go as fast as possible.”
The great white has no natural predator except for the killer whale. The species is internationally protected because it faces grave ecological challenges. The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed it as a vulnerable species.
WATCH: Fisherman reels in Great White shark near Florida pier. https://t.co/Qo9GFvfsu0
— Kym Anderson (@Kym_nbc15) February 27, 2019