Florida Tiger Shark Catch Reveals Predators Swimming Alongside Beachgoers

A group of Florida anglers managed to hook a large tiger shark and a sandbar shark from the shoreline this past week, revealing the diversity and density of the predators that share the water with beachgoers along the Gulf coast.

Fishermen Jonathan Novio and Jimmy Ferro sought out shark angler Ryan Machado to help them set their lines off Bradenton last Wednesday night. According to the Bradenton Herald, the group took turns kayaking into deeper water, in order to carry their bait through breakers and across several sandbars that sharks are known to frequent. Their efforts quickly paid off, as sharks struck at their lines multiple times throughout the night.

“Every half hour, we would get runs on different poles but we couldn’t get a solid hook-up,” Novio recalled. “Around 11 p.m., Jimmy gets a good run on his rod. He reels tight and gets a solid hook set on the shark, which started coming in like a sandbar shark.”

Though it at first appeared that the shark would be easily caught, the predator decided to put up a fight, turning away from the beach and spinning out 100 yards of line from Ferro’s six-foot Penn Senator and Crowder rod. While Ferro maxed out the drag on his rig in an effort to slow the shark down, Machado felt a strike on his own line, quickly bringing a five-foot-long sandbar shark out of the depths. As Ferro’s shark approached the beach a short while later, he quickly realized that he had hooked something far bigger than a sandbar shark.

“Tiger!” Novio recalled him yelling. “It tail-wrapped his line. I went in the water and grabbed it by the tail and dragged it on shore. We took pictures and released the sharks as fast as possible.”

Tiger sharks aren’t uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico, as NOAA notes. They are also found as far north as Cape Cod on the eastern seaboard, and represent the dominant shark responsible for attacks in Hawaii. Ocearch, an organization that works to document sharks so that they can be tracked by satellite, is currently preparing an expedition to Australia that will see them tag as many as 40 tiger sharks, as the Inquisitr previously reported.

While tiger sharks aren’t rare in the Gulf, attacks attributed to them are. The last time that a Floridian was killed by one of the predators was in 1998. On May 10, 2010, angler Joey Polk brought a 12-foot, 9-inch specimen out of the sea, setting the Florida land catch record for a tiger shark.

[Image via the Bradenton Herald]