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Hammerhead sharks are washing up dead on beaches in Sarasota County

Scientists believe all were caught and released
Posted at 10:30 AM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-12 10:30:04-04

(WFLA, NBC NEWSCHANNEL) If you're looking for a good fishing spot, this here's the place. The Venice fishing pier is popular among locals and tourists alike.

Joe Faust is happy catching anything. Snagging sharks out here is a special treat. But after catching, he always releases them. "It's all about conservation and stuff like that for me."

But sadly in the past few weeks, four great hammerhead sharks have washed ashore in Sarasota County. Scientists believe all were caught and released.

"Don't ever take these fish out of the water," says Dr. Robert Hueter with Mote Marine Lab.

He says hammerhead sharks are dwindling in numbers. And in these hot summer months, catching a hammerhead can put it in danger.  "This is water that doesn't hold a lot of dissolved oxygen and so these sharks tire out very quickly."

 

Ten to fifteen minutes of fighting with them could exhaust them to the point of death. Even if they swim away, they could still die later. So officials recommend releasing it as soon as you catch it.

"Don't bother to get it all the way to the boat, I know everybody wants a picture and that's important. But what's more important- your picture or that that animal lives?" Dr. Hueter says.

Back on the pier, Faust hopes his fellow fisherman are more careful before it's too late.

Officials also say a good course of action is to just cut the leader as quickly as possible, and again don't ever take that shark out of the water.

What should you do if you spot a dead shark on the beach? Call wildlife officials. In some cases they may want to study the shark to find out exactly how it died.