Vol 6 No. 36 - May 31, 2006

Big shark on Cortez ice

This 1,262-pound hammerhead shark caught off Boca Grande beach
could be a world recprd and it is being stored in Cortez.

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – It could be the biggest fish that’s ever been put on ice at the A.P. Bell Fish Co. – a 14 1/2-foot, 1,262-pound hammerhead shark.

It could also be a new world sport fishing record, according to the Florida-based International Game Fish Association in Dania Beach.

Pending an examination of photographs and pieces of the tackle, line, leader and hook used, the shark is expected to break the current world record by 271 pounds, IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser said.

That’s exactly what charter Captain Bucky Dennis of Port Charlotte had in mind.

On May 23, about 300 yards off Boca Grande beach near the pass, he was fishing for shark on his boat next to a friend’s charter boat that was after tarpon, which attract sharks, he said. The hammerhead and two bull sharks kept going for the tarpon, so his friend did a donut around the sharks to scare them off.

The hammerhead bit the motor on the charter boat, and Dennis went into action.

"I was trying to break a record," he said. "She took the bait and I hooked her. My buddy jumped on my boat and drove, but I have a group of friends I helped with a shark two weeks ago, and I called them. They came so he could go back and finish his charter."

The shark towed Dennis’ boat 12 miles from Boca Grande Pass. It took him five and a half hours to land her.

To keep the shark from going to waste, he donated it to Mote Marine Laboratory, but Mote doesn’t have a freezer large enough to preserve it, so it’s being stored at the Cortez fish house.

"It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen caught," said Cortez fisherman Bryan Ibasfalean, who was at the fish house when the shark was brought in. "But I’ve seen as big or bigger swimming."

Smaller than the great white shark caught by Cortezian Edgar Green off Longboat Key in 1937 – which Mote scientist Robert Hueter estimates at 15 feet and 2,000 pounds, (locals say it was between 18-24 feet) – it’s called a "great" hammerhead.

"Its dorsal fin is huge" and its hammer measures more than three feet across, said Hueter, director of Mote's Center for Shark Research, adding that the shark may have been pregnant. "She was very rotund."

Hueter said that scientists prefer tagging and releasing sharks to landing them, although the opportunity to study such a large specimen is welcome.

"Thanks to this donation, we hope to be able to teach even more people about the status of sharks and their importance to the world's oceans, and how to protect and save these animals," he said.

Meanwhile, Dennis waits for the verdict on his record.
"It’s just recognition, really, but maybe there would be some endorsements from the company that makes the line," he said. "And I might get a few more shark charters."

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