I have no problem with catching and keeping a shark for that purpose. Shark can be mighty tasty. I laud these young men for sharing their fine catch, and, let’s be frank, who deserves a treat like that more than the dedicated military people serving our country, protecting our freedoms and making sacrifices that so many others wouldn’t make unless forced to do so.
In addition, the jaw of a shark that big, if extracted properly, is worth a couple thousand dollars. As a lover of sharks and sharks teeth, I’m sure, if I caught the same fish, that I would be tempted to keep the jaw just to mount it on my wall. If I were to keep the shark, I’d eat it, too. I hope one of the Marines kept the jaw. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
My beef is with the charter boat captain’s methods for bringing the tiger shark to shore. Boat personnel placed a noose around its tail after it was pulled up alongside the vessel. Then they dragged the shark to its death while returning to shore. Make no mistake. That marvelous fish suffered immensely. Guaranteed, the tiger shark lived a lot longer than a human would have under the same conditions.
The boat’s captain said the method used in drowning the shark was “necessary” since there was no way to get a creature that large on deck.
Well, if torturing marine life is necessary to placate paying passengers, then it shouldn’t be allowed. It should be unlawful.
Flashback. I have them often. Tea inhalation can do that to the best of us. But allow me for a moment to recount a beach event earlier this summer.
It was eight in the morning and I’d just taken a swim and was walking along the shore looking for fossils. A fisherman’s severely bent fishing rod caught my attention near the 67th Avenue North beach access. A small group of people formed an arc around Wes Montgomery, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, as he muscled to shore a bonnethead shark that had to have been nearly four-feet long.
Wes had no idea he’d been battling a shark until it was pulled from the surf. He posed with it and excitedly spoke with passersby about his catch, and what a beautiful sight it was. He tried valiantly to get the hook from the shark’s mouth, but eventually had to cut his fishing line just above the leader.
Wes could have kept the shark. It would have been very good eating had it been prepared properly. Its jaw would have been nice to have as a memento. But Wes returned the bonnethead, a member of the hammerhead family, to its home. The shark thrashed about, trying to get the foreign object out of its mouth, then continued on its way. The hook rusted and broke by now and, if the bonnethead is dead, it had nothing to do with Wes catching it.
That, folks, is sportsmanship.
Back to the present. Darn.
Again, I’m not belittling the Marines. I’m sure they’re great sports in most cases. Nearly anyone would have wanted to keep a 14-foot tiger shark if given the option.
The boat’s captain, on the other hand, should be ashamed. He’s not. He had this to say in the local public relations rag, The Tidal Eyechart.
“I’ve not seen nobody put a shark like that to pier in my years as a fisherman. We saw him swim by and we chased him with our boat for over 2 1/2 miles. When we caught him, we actually handled this shark with no gun, no harpoon…we tied a rope noose on her tail. We drug her backwards, which caused her to drown.”
Uh, yeah. I’ll let the quote speak for itself other than to say that he’s a third-generation fisherman, not a Rhodes scholar.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on this not-so-gentle man. I’m willing to bet that the dragging of live, large catches back to shore by the tail is common locally and afar. That’s why I haven’t mentioned the boat or its captain by name.
Me? Just for the entertainment of it all, I wouldn’t mind grabbing a lawn chair and watching offenders have a rope tied around their legs and dragged through their habitats, starting right from the caves in which they dwell. I reckon after a minute or so they would realize just how cruel they’ve been.