Last month a 21-year-old man in Florida made international headlines for snagging a 13-foot hammerhead while fishing off the pier at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. After his friend’s line bent hard and the huge fish was pulled in closer, Ryan Bolash dragged the shark onto a beach full of stunned onlookers.
“It was flailing around, everything like that,” one witness later said. “It was really cool.”
The famous snag was only the latest in a spate of recent high-profile hammerhead catches. But according to one marine biologist, the sharks’ lives were in danger and the fishermen were probably breaking the law.
In March a group of Florida Atlantic University students made headlines when they caught a 14-foot, estimated 700-pound hammerhead (and posted a YouTube video of the ordeal, now viewed more than a million times), and in February a man was featured on local television after winning a South Florida fishing tournament with his hammerhead catch.
All the fishermen expressed concern for the animals’ well-being and released the sharks. “They’re an amazing creature,” Bolash said. “I don’t know why anyone would want to hurt them.”
But the fishers also struggled for an hour or more with the animals to reel them in — hammerheads are renowned fighters — and took photos and measurements before releasing the sharks. Keeping the animals on land even for a few minutes can prove fatal, says a University of Miami marine biologist. And thanks to a 2012 law aimed at protecting the species — which is endangered — it’s also illegal.
“Think about if we were holding your head underwater for several minutes while scuba divers were taking a picture,” says David Shiffman, the biologist. “You’re not adapted to survive in that world.”
Of shark species, Shiffman says, hammerheads have among the highest stress responses to being caught. They fight instantly and vigorously, which makes the shark popular with fishermen looking for an adrenaline rush. But it also means hammerheads are more likely to die from the stress and fatigue of a protracted battle with a fishing line, even if they’re released promptly once they’re finally reeled in.
Shiffman is particularly miffed at those who brag of hours-long “epic fights” to bring in the hammerheads. “The ‘fight’ is the animal literally trying not to die,” he says. “[It’s] putting every bit of energy it has into not being killed.”
There’s no reliable hammerhead count available, Shiffman says, but he estimates the shark’s population has declined by as much as 90 percent since the 1970s. In 2012 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a regulation prohibiting the killing of three varieties, including the great hammerhead, the largest. But the law also prohibits “landing” of the sharks, meaning it’s illegal to bring them ashore unless they are “immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed.”
Keeping the hammerheads on the beach to measure them or pose for a picture, Shiffman contends, means the animals aren’t being immediately released, and the stressful fight to reel them in means they’re not left unharmed.
The biologist estimates that in recent years hundreds of hammerheads have been pulled ashore, often during the night or in unpopulated areas where the practice can go unnoticed.
“‘Oh yeah, of course we released it. We don’t want to hurt the animals,'” he said, mimicking the fishermen’s typical response. “But they’re using illegal actions that hurt the animals. Their heart’s in the right place, but their actions need to match it.”
SCUBAPRO Free Octopus Promotion 2023
Free Octopus with every purchase of a SCUBAPRO regulator system
Just in time for the festive season, divers can save money again with the FREE OCTOPUS winter promotion! Until December 31st SCUBAPRO offers one of the two new Octopus models S270 or R105 for free with every purchase of a regulator system!
The S270 OCTOPUS is free with purchase of a MK25 EVO/D420 or MK19 EVO/D420, MK25 EVO/S620Ti or MK19 EVO/ S620Ti in INT or DIN versions. A R105 OCTOPUS is free with purchase of a MK25 EVO/S600 or MK17 EVO/S600, or MK25 EVO/G260 or MK19 EVO/G260 or MK19 EVO BT or MK25 EVO BT/ G260 CARBON BT in INT or DIN versions.
SCUBAPRO offers a 30-year first owner warranty on all regulators, with a revision period of two years or 100 dives. All SCUBAPRO regulators are of course certified according to the new European test standard EN250-2014.
Available at participating SCUBAPRO dealers. Promotion may not be available in all regions.
Find an authorized SCUBAPRO Dealer at scubapro.com.
More information available here: SCUBAPRO Free Octopus Promotion 2023
Indo siren destroyed by fire
Indo Siren, a vessel from the Master Liveaboards Fleet, has been destroyed by a fire this morning. Thankfully, all guests and crew members are safe.
Master Liveaboards have released the following statement:
During our current cruise in Raja Ampat, on the morning of 30th November, a fire broke
out on Indo Siren. At the current time we are still assessing the events around the incident,
and will be working with authorities, so cannot currently comment further.
All guests and staff departed the boat, without further incident. They are now with our
ground crew who have organised accommodations while we assist with all their other
needs going forwards.
We are currently evaluating the issues created by the fire on upcoming trips. Guests who
are likely to be affected by enforced cancellations or changes will be contacted in due time
when plans are finalised.
We are incredibly grateful that this incident was not more serious and that everyone who
was onboard, both crew and guests, are safe and well.
Blogs2 months ago
Discover Peace and Tranquillity in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and its Amazing Red Sea
News1 month ago
Emperor Echo liveaboard sustains “irreversible damage” in lightning storm at Fury Shoals
Blogs2 months ago
A Flying Visit to Nusa Penida, Bali
Blogs2 weeks ago
My week on Scuba Scene: simply the best Red Sea liveaboard experience
News2 months ago
2023 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition Announced
Marine Life & Conservation2 months ago
Book Review: The Lives of Octopuses and Their Relatives
Equipment2 months ago
Oceanic+ Now Has Freedive Mode on Apple Watch Ultra
News2 months ago
Miss Scuba UK on Bridging the Gender Gap in Commercial & Recreational Diving