A man was spotted wrestling with a shark on Smith Point Beach on Fire Island, New York, after accidentally hooking the giant fish on a line and attempting to rescue it. "He [the man] had been fishing and caught the shark by accident," eyewitness Emily Murray, who filmed the incident on her phone, told TheNYPost. "He was attempting to unhook it and cut it free." Here's what happened to the man (and the shark).
Smith Point Beach had two shocking shark attacks in July—which makes the shark-wrestling even more concerning. In Murray's video, the man can be seen dragging the sand tiger shark onto the beach with the help of another person. He then handles the shark with his bare hands before eventually unhooking it and putting it back into the water.
Shark Attack Beach
The two shark attacks in July were also caused by tiger sharks: A lifeguard was attacked on July 3 and bitten on the chest by a five-foot shark, making it back to shore after fighting it off with his bare hands. And on July 13, a 41-year-old surfer was hospitalized after a shark left a four-inch gash on his leg (he survived). Four other shark attacks were reported across Long Island.
Where Are All These Sharks Coming From?
More sharks are being spotted off the East Coast this summer—but why? One reason for the increased shark population is thanks to strategies put in place since the 1990s to protect the population. "There may be local increases in the number of sharks which will obviously mean that you are going to see more of them coming," says Yannis Papastamatiou, an associate professor of marine biology at Florida International University. "We may be seeing in some cases evidence of some shark populations starting to come back up."
Lots of Food Means Lots of Sharks
Another reason shark populations are thriving is thanks to an abundance of fish for them to eat, says shark biologist Greg Skomal, senior fisheries scientist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. "Lots of bait fish will lead to feeding sharks close to shore and if you throw humans in the mix, of which there are probably record numbers this year for a lot of reasons… you're going to get the probability of a negative interaction," Skomal told Changing America. The improvement in water quality also means there are more fish to lure the sharks.
Please Leave Sharks Alone
While this particular shark-wrestler may have had good intentions, people have been caught wrestling sharks for utterly idiotic reasons. One man was seen wrestling with a shark on a Delaware beach before dragging it by the tail and holding its mouth open for pictures (if you're rooting for the shark here, you're not alone). Another man in Nantucket jumped into the water to wrestle and subdue a seven-foot shark. The list goes on. And it's not just wrestling—one deep sea diver faced immense backlash after touching (and attempting to ride!) a great white shark near Oahu, Hawaii. "The number 1 rule of legitimate shark diving operators is DON'T TOUCH THE SHARKS!" shark researcher Dr. Michael Domeier said in a scathing Instagram post. "This is not shark advocacy…it is selfish, self-promotion. Look at all of the other people in the water hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime experience…instead they can't even take a pic of the shark. And lastly…posting selfies with white sharks is really the wrong message..these are very dangerous animals."
TMX contributed to this story.