Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Giant Florida Hammerhead Shark Killed

Lately (last few years) it seems like a lot of "record" sized hammerhead sharks have been killed by shark fishermen in search of a trophy sized shark. This time it was off Singer Island in Palm Beach County on the Atlantic coast. A 1,000 pound, 13 foot long hammerhead was caught. According to the news article, the fisherman said he didn't mean to kill the shark, it just died during the struggle.

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.

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Blogger cabana boy said...

hey beachhunter,
i completely agree and these precious creatures need to be left alone...i also agree that we as the top of the chain need to cherish the creatures below us..

so i have a question you may be able to answer...
i am 23 and just moved to indian rocks beach i live across the street...coming from massachusetts this is surely a treat...i have been reading your ebook and now have stumbled onto your blog which i will surely check up on frequently..but here is my question...
it appears most days the water clarity on indian rocks beach is beautiful..but this whole week with beautiful weather the water has been very murky twards the this sand washing through from wind or algae or something..i just want to know what is causing this just out of curiousity....

i apologize for my horrible grammar..

thanks so much!!!


i see a lot of people down in fort desoto's north beach plucking sand dollars from the ocean and they are clearly still there penalties for this?

1:09 PM  
Blogger David McRee, --BeachHunter said...

Hi Sean,
I'm glad you find my info interesting. Water clarity along the beaches depends on a number of different things. The recent murkiness of the water is most likely caused by sand stirred surf and currents from the winds we've been having. Usually, suspended sand in
the water causes a sort of mint green color.

During the summer, higher temperatures and stronger sunlight, plus added nutrients from frequent summer rains cause algal blooms that reduce water clarity.

As for the taking of live shells, etc at Fort Desoto, I'm not sure if this is illegal. I know it would definitely be illegal in a state park like Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island, or Egmont Key. But Fort Desoto is a Pinellas County Park, so I'm not sure what the rules are on that.

On Christmas day we were on North Beach and put our chairs and umbrellas just behind a pair of small dunes as a wind break. After a while we went for a walk up the beach. From a distance we could see a family near our stuff. Their kid was on top of the dune and appeared to be digging. We were concerned about our things so we came back and noticed that the kid had completely destroyed half of one of the dunes. I know that is illegal. It is sad that parents could be so ignorant. They were clearly from another culture, where nature is more than likely seen as something to be conquered, rather than respected and conserved.

Thanks for visiting and thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Feel free to throw in your two cents anytime.


10:24 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

"Trash fish" prejudice is so ridiculous. It's the most heartless thing in the world for humans to kill an animal just because they themselves don't like it. To add suffering and cruelty to the deed is adding insult to injury, literally. I guess they think they know better than nature (or the Creator) which animals are "good" and which are "bad." If if is native to the ecosystem, it plays a part in it, whether these numbskulls realize it or not.

The news of the hammerhead literally sickens me. In the video I saw, the shark indeed looked like it might be pregnant. The largest fish of a species are the most productive and the most successful of their kind. They are the very last individuals a true sportsman would want to kill. This female shark was likely 35-40 years old or more. Sad to see her go that way. Maybe the guy can hunt pregnant female elephants next.

3:42 PM  

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