SANIBEL ISLAND (CBSMiami) – A couple of Florida fishermen are sharing photos of their “fish of a lifetime” after reeling in a 12-foot hammerhead on the shoreline of Sanibel Island.
Naples angler Joe Pope caught the mammoth hammerhead shark just 100 yards from the beach.
“Something just nailed one of our baits. As soon as we set into it, we just knew it was something huge,” he explained.
“It’s a fish of a lifetime when you get something like that.”
Pope and his friends reeled in the shark late Friday night.
Beachgoers were stunned after learning the shark was caught so close to shore and said they were nervous about going into the water. “I may go out up to my knees tomorrow. That’s it!” said Jen Elkins.
Researchers documented 35 shark attacks in Florida in 2016. The state of Florida alone has more shark attacks in recorded history than all other U.S. states combined.
Experts say more people in the water at Florida beaches is a recipe for increased contacts with sharks.
“They’re out in the water already. People forget it, you could see from the sky, they’re swimming around you,” shark angler Richard Jones said.
Since it is illegal to keep a hammerhead shark, Joe Pope immediately released it after snapping a few photos.