A massive hammerhead shark caught a frighteningly fierce blacktip shark and was then caught by yet another shark, Hall of Fame golfer Greg “the Shark” Norman.
Or, in other words, Hall of Fame golfer Greg “the Shark” Norman recently hooked a hammerhead shark in waters off Palm Beach, Fla., that may have been of world-record length.
Norman, 64, was fishing with on March 12 Josh Jorgensen, who produces the BlacktipH sport fishing YouTube channel, when the two hooked an 80-pound blacktip shark. But as that fish was swimming around on the line, Jorgensen saw a massive hammerhead shark approaching on a drone he was flying above the clear blue water. Jorgensen released a video of the encounter this week.
Hammerheads are popular targets for sportsmen because of their unique mallet-shaped heads, iconic elongated dorsal fins and easily accessible shoreline habitats.
“While these animals put up an exciting fight, they tire quickly and are some of the more physiologically fragile species,” according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s description.
They can grow up to 20 feet in the wild, live up to 30 years and weigh more than 500 pounds. The heaviest ever caught was found in Sarasota, Fla., checking in at 991 pounds.
During Norman and Jorgensen’s encounter, the hammerhead circled the hooked blacktip, then took a bite and swam away. But moments later, the drone’s camera caught it approaching again. This time it swallowed the blacktip whole, then raced away.
“Sometimes you just got to let nature take its course,” Jorgensen said in a phone interview. “Sometimes you’re fishing the ocean and you catch a tuna and a shark eats it, well, that’s nature. But then you want to catch that thing now. You work your way up the food chain.”
As Norman buckled into his fishing harness, the hammerhead drew hundreds of yards of line from the reel. Eventually, it towed Norman’s 41-foot vessel at 1 knot through the surf. After a 45-minute battle, the Shark was finally able to pull the shark to the side of the boat, where Jorgensen and the boat’s driver went wild with excitement.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! It’s a giant!” Jorgensen shouted.
The hammerhead looked colossal in the water and on drone footage. But next to the boat, it was practically a sea monster.
“I’ve seen some big fish,” Norman said in BlacktipH’s video. “I’ve dived with great whites, I’ve fought black marlin well over a thousand pounds. When you see that fish for the first time up against my 41-foot boat, you go, holy moly, this thing is huge. It’s bigger than I ever anticipated.”
It took nearly everyone on board to restrain the fish and prop it upright so water could continue to flow through its gills. Jorgensen measured it with a length of fishing line, but was so wrapped up just watching the hammerhead bob next to the boat, he never took out a tape measure to get the exact length.
Norman measured the fishing line after they returned to shore later and called with the result: 14 feet and 7⅜ inches, more than four inches longer than the International Game Fish Association world record. (The mark is unofficial because Norman and Jorgensen did not bring the catch to shore.)
“When I heard that, I almost fell out of my chair,” Jorgensen said.
They guessed the shark weighed anywhere from 1,200 to 1,300 pounds. The men held on to the hammerhead for another half-hour, making sure it was revived and ready to swim back out to sea. Just before releasing it, Norman, Jorgensen and other members of the BlacktipH crew jumped in the water beside it.
“You wanted to feel connected with this fish,” Norman said in the video.
With the three of them treading water several feet away and beachside high-rises visible in the distance, the remaining crew members let the shark go. It turned around and swam out to deeper water.