Man reels in 10-foot tiger shark in Jacksonville Beach

Catch comes as Florida shark fishing rules set to change

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Carianne Luter - Social Media Producer

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Seeing someone fishing isn’t exactly a rare sight in Northeast Florida, but video of a Jacksonville man who caught a tiger shark in Jacksonville Beach is getting a lot of attention.

Sean Whelehan was surrounded by beachgoers and sunbathers Monday afternoon at when he caught the shark, which measured about 10 feet long. It took him roughly an hour to reel it in.

Whelehan posted video of the catch on Facebook, which shows just how much of a struggle it was for him to reel in the shark. “After an hour of fighting, this is what we get,” he wrote.

WATCH: Man reels in shark in Jacksonville Beach

The shark’s gills were not submerged as it was pulled to shore. While that’s currently legal, it won’t be starting July 1 when fishermen will have to keep some species, like the hammerhead, in the water.

Dr. Bryan Franks, a marine science professor at Jacksonville University, said people are fascinated by sharks, but he noted that fishing for them can actually be dangerous, even deadly, for the shark.

“If you can bring these animals out of the water, you allow their skin in their gills to get dry, it can definitely impact the animal (and) elevate stress,” Franks said. “You release and it seems to swim off, but it can’t recover and maybe dies at a later time.”

The new Florida law also bans the practice of chumming, or seeding the water with bait, along the beach. This is something anglers routinely do to lure sharks closer to shore. 

It can also bring them into closer contact with swimmers, though.

In addition, there are new rules over what kind of equipment can be used. For instance, they’re now required to use certain types of hooks so they can cut the line if the hook can’t be removed.

“The requirement of non-stainless steel hooks and circle hooks must be used – these are all to better protect the animal if the line needs to be cut and the hook needs to remain,” Franks said.

The new law also requires shark anglers to apply for, and get, a special license at no cost. As part of that, they also must watch an educational video informing them about shark fishing.

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