It was a Jaws-dropping sight.
Florida beach-goers were shocked after stumbling upon a 11-foot, 500-pound female hammerhead that had washed ashore in Southeast Florida. Footage of the fishy flotsam is currently going viral online.
“This is a pretty rare event,” Hannah Medd, founder of the American Shark Conservancy, told CNN Of the macabre sighting, which occurred April 6 on Pompano Beach. “We get a call for maybe one to four a year that have washed back up.”
The colossal corpse belonged to a pregnant great hammerhead shark, the largest of all hammerhead species, capable of attaining a maximum size of 20 feet long and 991 pounds. A construction crew subsequently deployed a tractor to haul the creature off the beach as a crowd gathered to watch, Local 10 News reported.
The beast measured 11 feet long and weighed 500 pounds.WPLGWhile many bystanders were amazed at the awe-inspiring animal, others thought its death was quite sad given that the shark’s size and gender.
“You never want to see an animal this big laying on the beach,” lamented Pompano Beach resident Kevin Nosal. “It’s a female, so it’s always sad when a female passes.”
Hannah Medd, whose team was subsequently called in to take samples, revealed that the beached creature was pregnant and weighed approximately 500 big ones.
During their inspection, the ASH found a hook in the hammerhead’s mouth. This suggested that it may have been caught and released by an angler, whereupon it subsequently succumbed to shock and washed ashore.
“There is some fishing line in her gills, and from earlier pictures, there was a large hook in the side of her mouth, which indicates she was probably involved in fishing,” Medd told Local 10 News. “It [the death] may have to do with post-release mortality, which means the species in particular gets a little stressed out when it’s caught, it fights really hard.”
The local shark conservancy group posted a photo of the unborn pups on Facebook.Facebook/American Shark Conserva“This is a pretty rare event,” said Hannah Medd, founder of the American Shark Conservancy.WPLGThe hammerhead likely perished due to stress after being caught and released by anglers.WPLGCatch and release is currently legal in the state of Florida, and is often viewed as a humane alternative to keeping the fish. However, studies have shown that C&R often results in the same fatal outcome as catch-and-kill — even if the angler practices proper technique while releasing the quarry.
In fact, great hammerhead sharks are listed as critically endangered, a decision that was inspired by, among other factors, the species’ vulnerability after being caught and released, the Independent reported. Despite their global scarcity the critters are common off the coast of Florida.
The American Shark Conservancy intends to use the beaching incident as a means to motivate anglers to employ safer catch and release techniques.
These included outfitting boats with stronger tackle, which would undoubtedly mitigate the exciting “fight time” while reeling in this coveted sport fish, according to Medd. However, it would also reduce the hammerhead’s stress and therefore the likelihood of injury and death.
In a similarly rare flotsam find in December, California beachcombers stumbled upon a ghoulish-looking football fish that looked straight out of a Tim Burton night terror.
A worker views the dead hammerhead shark that washed up on Pompano Beach, Florida.Facebook/American Shark ConservaStudies have shown that catch and release often results in the same fatal outcome as catch-and-kill — even if the angler practices proper releasing techniques.WPLGThe American Shark Conservancy urges anglers to employ stronger tackle to reduce the fight time and therefore mitigate the likelihood that the fish gets injured or killed.WPLG