Record-sized hammerhead shark released out of respect
On Wednesday, two South Carolina anglers caught and released a hammerhead shark that weighed at least 400 pounds more than the state’s long-standing record, and possibly rivaled the world record.
Lead angler Pete Quartuccio and a friend teamed up to bring the nearly 14ft shark back to the leader after an hour-long fight, after which it was tagged and released by Outcast Sportfishing Captain Chip Michalove.
Michalove estimated the shark’s weight at over 1,000 pounds. South Carolina’s current record, set in 1989, stands at 588 pounds. The world record is a catch of 1,280 pounds in 2006 off Boca Grande, Florida.
The shark put up such a fierce fight, Michalove said, that Quartuccio and his buddy were too exhausted to pose for photos while the massive predator was alongside the boat.
“They were so exhausted they could barely stand,” Michalove said. “Pete crashed into the cooler and lay there exhausted and his friend was so tired I barely convinced him to hold the camera as I reached over and grabbed the shark’s head for a quick photo.
“I tried to get them to bend over for a photo, but they didn’t move. So I tossed a quick tag into the shark, popped the hook and sent it back.
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Michalove said he spotted the same hammerhead shark circling a bait while on a charter on Tuesday. On Wednesday, near shore in heavy weather, Quartuccio, a shark fishing veteran, was on the rod when the shark took his bait.
“She snatched 400 meters in about 60 seconds,” recalls Michalove. “I dropped anchor and turned the boat around to hunt [the shark]. I knew it was going to be huge, but I didn’t know the enormity until we got it a little closer and I could see the width.
The group knew the shark could eclipse the world record for height, but never considered killing the shark to achieve an official weight.
Michalove said: “Fifteen years ago I would have thrown a rope around his head and pulled it back to demolish the records. But these sharks have given me a good life and they are too important for our fishery.
“We captured so many tigers, lemons, bulls, I owe them everything. I got a few messages about how I should have brought her back, but there’s not even a doubt that we did the right thing.