Six marines visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as part of a bachelor party decided to celebrate the occasion by chartering a fishing boat.
They returned with a 14-foot tiger shark weighing 700 pounds: a catch that an expert described as rare, because of its size.
The marines, out of Camp LeJeune, didn’t just reel in the massive apex predator; they lassoed the beast, which had been cruising near the surface about three miles offshore.
“We saw him swim by and we chased him with our boat for over 2 1/2 miles,” Capt. Richard Long told the Sun News. “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.”
Long, who is employed by Fish Hook Charters, said the groom-to-be battled the shark on rod and reel for two hours before the rope was brought out. Long could not recall the name of the angler.
Tiger sharks are among the largest of sharks. They can measure to nearly 20 feet, but adults typically measure 10 feet to 14 feet.
They can weigh to about 1,400 pounds, and while those giant specimens are rare these days off South Carolina, veteran anglers recall the legendary catch of a 1,780-pound tiger shark from the end of the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier in 1964.
Tiger sharks also are as notorious as great whites for the danger they pose to humans.
But whereas great whites prefer colder water and prey on seals and sea lions, tiger sharks range in tropical and sub-tropical coastal waters and feed on fish and turtles-or other items they might scavenge.
Because tiger sharks feed on shallow reefs they’re often in close proximity to swimmers and surfers. (They’re blamed for most of the surprising eight attacks on humans this year off Hawaii.)
Samuel Gary, boat operations manager for the marine science department at Coastal Carolina University, said not many 14-footers are caught locally these days. “This is a pretty large animal that they caught,” he said.
Long said most of his clients opt to release sharks, after reeling them to the boat, but this being a special catch, the marines decided to keep it as a trophy for the groom.
“We don’t kill them unless people are going to keep them,” Ronnie Atkinson, who runs Fish Hook Charters, told the Sun. “That was a huge one.”
Added Long, via text message: “We not only catch big fish, we catch memories.”