An Australian angler recently endured an unexpected hour-long-fight when he hooked a massive three-meter-long bull shark while fishing in the Hastings River, bringing the animal to land only with the assistance of two other fishermen and a car.
The unusual catch transpired last Wednesday evening in the Mid North Coast district of New South Wales, Australia, according to the Daily Mail. Angler Dennis Rivers, who hails from Port Macquarie, had set out on a solo expedition along the banks of the Hastings River when he hooked the female bull shark. He was awakened by the sound of his reel “screaming” around 10 p.m., and immediately engaged in a fight with the shark.
— Spasique (@Spasiques) December 14, 2015
After an hour had passed, Rivers managed to bring the bull shark into the shallows, finally catching a glimpse of the huge predator, which weighed an estimated 250 kilograms. With little other option, he called for help from another angler who was positioned further along the bank. Rivers successfully woke him, but the duo were forced to enlist the aid of another man, Rivers’ friend Howie Griffin, who drove to the scene after he was called. After tying a rope around the shark’s tail, the three men were able to remove it from the water by towing it with Griffin’s car, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) December 14, 2015
Though the bull shark was taken from the water, the anglers only kept her ashore long enough to document the catch. After a few moments, they returned the shark to the river, before helping it swim off.
Rivers noted that the massive girth of the animal likely meant it was pregnant. Bull sharks are known to swim far inland in the region, and according to the Department of Primary Industries, females of the species often breed and give birth while upriver. Young bull sharks can remain in the rivers for up to five years before returning to the sea, thanks to a biological adaptation that allows the species to tolerate both fresh and salt water.
— Tracking Sharks (@trackingsharks) December 14, 2015
The presence of bull sharks in the Hastings River is nothing new, and Rivers confirmed that he had previously caught others of the species in the same area. While the size of the animal may seem staggering to observers, the angler notes that it isn’t the largest bull shark he has pulled from his favorite spots, saying he has “caught heaps of sharks in the river.”
Australia has seen an unusually high number of shark attacks this year, with 22 separate unprovoked incidents reported so far. Recently, state governments in the country have announced several innovative, if controversial, proposals aimed at managing the local shark population. These proposals include the use of drones to spot dangerous sharks, as well as the application of so-called “smart” drum lines. The lines have been particularly controversial, as conservationists allege that they have the potential to indiscriminately target a variety of species. Residents in areas like Ballina (the site of several serious shark incidents) have pushed back, meanwhile, asserting that the lines don’t go far enough to protect beachgoers.
— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) December 4, 2015
While many of the recent attacks have been attributed to white sharks, bull sharks have been known to strike humans as well. At times an aggressive species, they prefer shallow and murky inshore waters. Researchers assert that bull sharks will eat almost anything, and they are regularly cited along with tiger sharks as one of the top three species responsible for fatal attacks.
The day after his astounding catch, Rivers was recuperating, saying his hands were still “cut up” from his fight with the three-meter bull shark.