|Record Hammerhead Shark Was Pregnant|
Posted by on June 30, 2006 at 10:33:23:|
Florida Man Catches 1,280-Pound Hammerhead Shark
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Port Charlotte fisherman caught a great hammerhead shark near Boca Grande on Tuesday that could be a new world sport fishing record.
Fisherman Bucky Dennis was alone on his boat when the animal took the bait, a 25-pound stingray. A friend on a nearby vessel climbed aboard Dennis' boat to help. The five-foot-nine, 180-pound man also used shoulder harnesses.
Dennis said it took five hours to land the great hammerhead shark after it towed their fishing boat 12 miles from Boca Grande Pass.
The shark was donated to Mote Marine Laboratory and Mote Aquarium for further scientific study and possible exhibition in Mote Aquarium.
The female great hammerhead was measured at 14.5 feet long and 1,262 pounds, with its hammer measuring more than three feet across.
Record Hammerhead Shark Was Pregnant
SARASTOA, Fla. -- The likely world-record hammerhead shark caught in May weighed 1,280 pounds because it was pregnant with 55 pups -- the most scientists have ever seen.
Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory, where the shark was taken for a necropsy, said Thursday that 52 were nearly full-term and just a few days from birth. The shark was estimated to be between 40 and 50 years old.
Scientists previously believed that hammerhead sharks gave birth to 20 to 40 pups at a time.
"Although we are thankful that the fisherman gave this unique specimen to Mote, and we are learning a lot about this species from this large female shark, we were saddened to see so many unborn pups inside her so close to birth," said Dr. Robert Hueter, director of Mote's Center for Shark Research.
"We ask fishermen not to kill sharks for sport and to remember that shark populations have been severely depleted by overfishing. Very large sharks like this hammerhead are often pregnant females that help maintain the status of the species' population into the future. We advocate release of these large sharks and the tagging of them whenever possible."
The shark was caught by Bucky Dennis off Boca Grande on May 23. Dennis struggled for hours to reel in the shark and donated his catch to Mote for study because he didn't have a way to freeze it.
He said he wouldn't have killed it if he didn't think it was bigger than the record 991-pound hammerhead caught in 1982. He said it isn't fair to criticize him because other anglers catch pregnant fish.
"They do it every single day. I just got a lot of attention for it," he said. "I didn't know she was pregnant. All I saw was a big fish."
Whether the 14.5-foot shark is a record catch on rod and reel is still being decided. The International Game Fish Association said a decision will be made sometime in late July.
The shark's carcass couldn't be saved, Mote officials said, so a fiberglass replica will be made and displayed at the facility.
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