Wayne Comben and Graeme Pullen were fishing from their 17ft boat off the coast of Boscastle, Cornwall, when something grabbed a hold of Pullen's line. When the pair looked over the side to see what they'd caught, they found themselves staring into the “lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes...” of an enormous Porbeagle Shark.
The Porbeagle is a member of the Great White family of sharks but have a reputation for being shy, secretive, and non-threatening. Tell that to Comben and Pullen, who received the shock of their lives when the shark's massive, toothy head reared out of the water right next to their suddenly too-small boat.
“I have never seen anything like it in 40 years of sea fishing,” said Pullen once he was firmly and thankfully back on shore, adding that the shark appeared to be in a “crazed feeding frenzy” after they dropped bait into the sea. Pullen wasn't just spinning a stereotypical fish story either. “I don't think anyone has seen a shark that big in British waters,” stated David Mitchell, marine environmental campaigns manager for The Angling Trust, to SKY News. “It's certainly the largest rod-caught shark anyone has seen.”
Hooking the monster shark was one thing, reeling it in close enough to be tagged was quite another. Pullen related that after giving them the once-over, the apparently annoyed shark took the two on a modern-day version of the whalers' Nantucket Sleighride. About 90 minutes later and around a mile away from their original position, the shark finally tired enough to be pulled alongside the boat and tagged.
Though the previous record for a shark caught in British waters is 507 pounds or 230 kg., the portly Porbeagle won't be registered as a record-breaker because Comben and Pullen chose NOT to land it – and by doing so, kill it. “With an animal listed as vulnerable and under such immense pressure as the Porbeagle,” explained Pullen, “it would be morally unethical to kill it. It's great it's been released and [tagging] contributes to greater scientific knowledge.”
In order to encourage the preservation of rare species like the Porbeagle shark, the British Record Fish Committee recently launched a “Notable Fish List” which recognizes such altruistic catch & releases though it stops short of declaring them as record-breakers. Comben and Pullen won't complain, having retained memories (and video) of their experience, and it's likely the lucky Porbeagle is thankful as well. (via BBC and International Business Times)
*** UPDATED on December 29th, 2018 ***