A group of fishermen in Venice lured in a big catch last week - a 12-foot hammerhead shark. That itself was quite enough excitement for them, until they realized, the shark was pregnant.
With some quick thinking, they helped her give birth.
The fishing pier in Venice juts out 700-feet into the Gulf, luring fishermen to see what surprises the water holds below. And last weekend, a group of friends caught a big one.
With help from The Venice Scoop, News Channel 8 contacted Noe Campos.
Campos was fishing with his friends, Devon Fritch, Danny Rosenbalm, and Coty Steffanni when late into the night Fritch’s line snagged a large creature!
After wrestling the line for a couple of hours, Campos jumped in after the line got wrapped around a pole.
"People call me crazy but, I'd rather save a fish,” said Campos.
That 'fish' was a 12-foot hammerhead shark. And once they brought it to shore, they realized there was a lot more rescuing to do.
Andrew Weedman was with the group and he described, “As soon as they roll it over, you can see this big hole."
The shark was injured. Campos said, “It had a big radius bite, a big bite mark taken out of it."
Then they noticed something - little baby sharks were inside.
Campos said, "We seen [sic] the tail, pushing out. They were trying to push their heads out, so I'm guessing the mom tried to give birth but she didn't have the strength to push them out."
They pulled them out one by one.
Weedman said, "They were wiggling and squirming. They were definitely very alert."
Eventually they pulled out twenty baby pups.
Campos said, "I stood in the water for a couple of seconds to make sure they swam off good. I held them and as soon as I put them out, voom! They took off!"
Unfortunately, the mother shark did not survive her injuries.
Campos solemnly said, “With that bite mark taken out of her, it’s sad, because that hammerhead could produce more and more.”
Campos is disappointed, but he's hoping his actions may have saved another generation of hammerheads.
Dr. Bob Hueter, a shark expert from Mote Marine Laboratory says there’s unfortunately a strong possibility the babies did not survive.
Hueter said pups are not supposed to be born this early and that close to shore. He said just because they swam away that does not mean they were ready to be born.
Hueter said even if they did survive, it’s possible the babies were eaten by predators.
Dr. Hueter does not encourage fishermen to catch hammerheads for sport. They are considered endangered around the world and they are protected in US waters.
He said if a fisherman snags a hammerhead on a line, then they should cut the line.
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