A pair of Australian anglers recently landed a large number of sharks while fishing off the continent’s western coast, including two massive specimens that have garnered worldwide attention.
The men responsible for the unusual catch are Joshua Butterworth and Jethro Bonnichta, both of Esperance, Australia, according to Grind TV. The pair recently set out for a 10-day-long trip that saw them repeatedly fishing at a beach north of Carnarvon, which is also located in Western Australia. During their trip, the duo reportedly caught 30 different sharks, yet it is two imposingly large specimens that have attracted the majority of attention on social media.
— Prof Ray Wills (@ProfRayWills) January 15, 2016
The two “mega” sharks in question were a hammerhead and a tiger shark, both estimated to weigh between 770 and 880 pounds. Bonnichta spent an hour-and-a-half fighting the hammerhead shark, collapsing from exhaustion after the ordeal. A 13.5-foot-long fish, the shark reportedly dragged out 2,600 feet of line three times before it was brought ashore.
— Darcizzle Offshore (@_Darcizzle_) January 15, 2016
The tiger shark, meanwhile, took between 30-40 minutes to catch. While it remains unclear which of the anglers brought it to shore, that shark also measured over 13 feet in length. Both of the massive sharks were released, as were several lemon and nurse sharks that the pair also managed to catch during their stay.
Butterworth pointed out that the anglers actively attempt to keep the sharks they catch healthy during their brief time on the beach. He pointed to photos of the sharks (which have gone viral on Facebook following a post by Rogue Offshore), to show that the fishermen kept the sharks in the shallows, with water running through their gills, during their ordeal. He also noted that the pair do not kill any of the sharks they land, instead taking great care to see that they are returned to the ocean safely.
— Motherboard (@motherboard) January 11, 2016
While the pair have received both praise and criticism for their actions, their catch is hardly the first time that sharks of notable size have made headlines in Australia. The continent is home to a wide variety of shark species, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and even great whites. White sharks, in particular, have alarmed beachgoers along the eastern coast of Australia, prompting calls from local residents for action. Their concerns have led to a myriad of shark management proposals from local authorities, mostly centered around the use of drones and drum lines. These proposals have generated their own controversy, as some point out that they could indiscriminately target sea life other than sharks.
According to the Australian Shark Attack File, the continent saw 22 unprovoked incidents during 2015, along with 11 cases that occurred after some means of provocation. While Western Australia saw only two such attacks, New South Wales was home to a staggering 14 incidents, one of which resulted in a fatality. The state was also the site of widely publicized beach closures, caused by the presence of large white sharks.
— World Surfing News (@surfingnews) January 6, 2016
Recently, another image of an Australian tiger shark garnered widespread attention, after a motorist was photographed with the unfortunate animal strapped across the front of his 4wd vehicle. Despite the unusual method of transporting the shark, it was not clear if the animal’s size made it an illegal catch in Western Australia.