Great White Shark caught in Hermosa Beach, CA June 10, 2003



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Posted by Lauran Gangl on June 19, 2003 at 03:11:45:


Great white shark isn't a great catch

By Ed Zieralski
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

June 10, 2003

A Los Angeles fisherman who caught a 1-to 2-year-old great white shark from the Hermosa Pier will be cited by the State Department of Fish and Game for killing a protected species.

Abraham Ulloa, a general contractor from Los Angeles, posed with the estimated 61/2 -foot white shark on the pier June 7 along with two Hermosa Beach lifeguards.

The photo appeared with a story in the Easy Reader, a Hermosa Beach newspaper, and even though the caption identified the catch as a "200-pound mako," the story and headline identified it as a "great white shark."

The story described Ulloa's two-hour battle with the shark on 40-pound test line and heavier leader and how two fishing buddies helped haul the fish up with grappling gaffs.

Outraged by the story and photo, sport and commercial fishermen called Fish and Game officials and media. Many criticized the Hermosa Beach lifeguards for their involvement.

"We received a lot of tips from the public on this," said Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist with the DFG. Lauren Gangle,notified her supervisors at California DFG. She works as a Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission regional supervisor and is graduate student in marine biology. Mrs. Gangle collects data from commercial fisherman without their fear of any report of mismanagement. Ms. Gangl was present in Hermosa Beach at time of the capture of the Great White and contacted Ms. Wilson to report data.
"Lauren gave me data and then I decided to proceed with violation proceedings."

Department of Fish and Game warden Rebecca Hartman investigated and traced Ulloa to his home in Los Angeles. Ulloa told her his family had eaten some of the fish, and he had distributed portions to friends. But he still had the fins and jaws of the shark.

Hartman didn't cite Ulloa because he claimed he thought it was a mako shark. She confiscated the fins and jaws and took them to a marine biologist for identification.

Chris Lowe, a biology professor at Long Beach State, identified the great white by its unmistakable teeth.

"At that young age, the teeth are somewhat like a mako's, but the great white has serrated bottom teeth," Lowe said. "And its uppers are more triangular than a mako's."

Hartman plans to cite Ulloa even though he professed ignorance.

"It's a violation even though he claims he didn't know what it was," Hartman said. "The law is set up to protect the animal. If you don't know what it is, don't take it. In this case, this individual took a great white shark, a predator that keeps sea lions in check and fills a certain niche in the ocean."

Ulloa could not be reached for comment. He faces a misdemeanor charge, a fine of $1,000 and/or six months in county jail. Hartman said the Hermosa Beach lifeguards in the picture with Ulloa won't be charged because they arrived after the shark was killed. They played no role in the killing of the fish, she said. Lifeguards Charlie Piccaro and Bill "Shark" Harkins' only "crime" is they posed with Ulloa over a dead protected great white shark.

Lowe said Southern California is a nursery for great whites, and he estimates six to eight young great whites are caught each year by sport and commercial fishermen between Dana Point and Ventura. He said it's important that laws stay in place to protect them.

"The best guess is that great white sharks take 12 to 18 years to mature and give birth," he said. "And when they do give birth, it's only to one or two pups at a time. These fish have a life span of humans."


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