It took six North Carolina fishermen three hours to land a shark nearly as long as a Volkswagen Beetle.
The hammerhead shark was close to 13 feet long and was caught on Aug. 15 just south of Avon on Hatteras Island, Outer Banks photographer Jason Cole told The News & Observer.
Cole was there when Bryan Lester, Johnny Fairbanks and four other men caught the shark and he captured photos of their catch.
It’s the largest hammerhead Cole said he’s ever seen.
“Six people took turns reeling in the shark. It was right at a three-hour fight,” Cole said. “The shark was released unharmed and swam away.”
The shark was caught on beach access ramp 38, Cole said.
Sam Walker, of the Outer Banks Voice, told The News & Observer all six fishermen are Hatteras Island locals.
In a shark guide he wrote for the North Carolina Sea Grant, shark scientist Charles Bangley said scalloped hammerhead sharks — the most common large hammerhead species in North Carolina — have seen their populations drop dramatically from overfishing.
Nearly 90 percent of those hammerheads have been removed in the Atlantic completely, Bangley said.
“For this reason, hammerheads are managed under lower quotas and higher size limits than other large coastal sharks,” Bangley said in the guide. “Three other large hammerhead species — the smooth, great and recently discovered Carolina hammerhead — occasionally can be found in North Carolina waters.”
Carolina hammerheads are visually identical to their scalloped cousins. The biggest difference is the number of vertebrae, Bangley said.
Bonnethead sharks are another type of hammerhead found in North Carolina, but they are smaller — growing to about 5 feet rather than scalloped hammerheads which can grow as long as 14 feet, Bangley said.