Two years or so ago a 1,280 pound, 14 foot 3 inch hammerhead shark was caught in Boca Grande Pass on the Gulf coast by another record-seeking shark fisherman. It pulled the fisherman's boat 12 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico during the struggle.
Imagine the power and stamina of a shark that size to be able to pull a boat for 12 miles.
Lots of hammerhead sharks feed in Boca Grande Pass, especially from May through July, when one of their favorite food sources, Tarpon, is there. Unfortunately the human Tarpon sport fishermen are also there competing with the hammerheads and other sharks for the Tarpon. Often the sharks will attack a Tarpon that has been hooked by a sports fishermen and eat it before the Tarpon can be pulled into the boat.
I like to fish, and I'm no far-left tree-hugger, but at some point we all have to realize that there are just too many people fishing now to be continuing to kill off the dwindling population of large sharks, just for "sport". What kind of sport is that?
It reminds me of when I'm around other fishermen on the piers, and someone lands a catfish, a ladyfish, a stingray, or some other fish that they don't want. They often just leave it flopping on the hot concrete of the pier until it dies, then they kick the lifeless body back into the water. It's just a "trash fish" they say. Fortunately the people that do this are not as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around.
Below is a photo of a stingray someone left on Fort Desoto's Gulf Pier to die. They could have easily just nudged it into the water. Instead, the tore off the tail spine and left it baking in the sun to die. Some would say that the stingray has no useful purpose, but as it so happens, the stingray is one of the hammerhead shark's favorite foods.
I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to see the graceful beauty of the giant hammerheads. For those who might quote the Bible and say that man has dominion over the earth, I don't challenge that at all. But with that honored place of holding dominion comes the responsibility of stewardship.
Below is a youtube video of a large hammerhead shark in Boca Grande pass eating a tarpon that the fisherman has hooked. If you listen carefully, you'll hear a woman on one of the boats remark how "sad" it is that the tarpon is being attacked. Amazing. The shark is killing to survive. How is that sad? The tarpon might well have died from the struggle with the fisherman anyway, even though it might have been released "unharmed." Many "catch-and-release" fish die anyway, despite the best efforts of the fishermen to return them unharmed to the water. A struggling fish attracts sharks. Upon release, the fish is exhausted and is an easy catch for any sharks that have been attracted by the struggle. I am not against catch-and-release fishing, but I am not comfortable with the deliberate targeting of large sharks, whose population is in decline.