Scientist Neil Hammerschlag might need a bigger boat the next time he's trolling the reefs near the Florida Keys. Hammerschlag spends a lot of time on the water, as most shark hunters do. But on May 27, he reeled in something bigger than he could chew.
"We didn't know if we were pulling up a sunken boat, a monster shark, a school bus - we had no idea which it was," Hammerschlag told OurAmazingPlanet.
Turns out it was a 1,000-pound bull shark.
"As soon as it came to the surface, it literally took my breath away, it was so big," Hammerschlag said.
Hammerschlag, a shark researcher and assistant professor at the University of Miami, spends every other weekend in southern Florida dragging baited, shark-safe lines behind a boat, hoping for a bite.
"It's one of the biggest bull sharks I've ever caught, and it's the biggest bull shark I've ever tagged," Hammerschlag told OurAmazingPlanet. (Which is pretty impressive considering he's tagged more than 1,000).
When he and his team catch one, they label the shark with either a satellite or ID tag, take small samples of muscle and fin and a vial's worth of blood, and then send the shark back out into the deep blue.
Turns out this shark was a female and as with many other shark species, females are typically larger than males. But don't be mistaken. She's no "lady." Hammerschlag says bull sharks, both males and females, have the most testosterone of any animal on the planet.
Once he regained his composure, Hammerschlag did indeed tag the shark. But get this - he ran out of satellite tags and had to settle for a simpler tag that doesn't allow for tracking. While Hammerschlag doesn't know where this huge shark is lurking now, he's proud to have made the catch of his life.