Just off South Beach last weekend, two local fisherman brought in a catch that may seem alarming, but experts say isn’t something swimmers or surfers should worry about.
Manuel Martinho and his father Manuel Sr., were fishing off South Beach July 28, when they hooked a 9.5-foot, 145-pound thresher shark.
“It took me an hour and 45 minutes to land it,” Manuel said. “It drug us about a mile from South Beach to Buoy Two.”
He said once they reeled it in, they cut it up and cooked it at a barbecue.
“It gave us about 70 pounds of white meat,” he said, adding thresher sharks are considered some of the tastiest meats.
Asked if he kept the jaws of the shark, Manuel said he did not.
“It’s not any more impressive than what you’d see on a lingcod,” he said.
Not a threat
While the size and weight of the shark may be alarming to some, it should be noted the thresher shark is common worldwide and is not known to attack people.
According to the International Shark Attack File, no recorded incidents of a thresher shark attack on a person have ever been recorded. The University of Florida website on Thresher sharks says they are considered harmless to humans, but have been known to attack boats. Threshers are most known for their long tail fin, which can be as long as it’s body.
According to Marie Levine, executive director of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, thresher sharks are “no threat to humans.”
“There’s never been an attack by a thresher,” she said, “and we maintain the global shark file.”
While threshers are no threat to humans, the opposite is considered true for the big fish by the Institute.
“There are three species of threshers,” Levine said, “and all three are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.”
She said sharks are endangered worldwide and play a crucial role in the ocean ecosystem. She said they feed on other fish and use their long tail to stun smaller fish by cracking their long tail like a whip.
“They’re a magnificent species,” she said. “If someone catches one on a line, we’d prefer that it be released back into the ocean.”
When told the shark was eaten at a barbecue, Levine sounded somewhat repulsed.
“Oh, no, you shouldn’t eat those,” she said. “They are full of lead, methyl-mercury, PCBs and toxins. I don’t know a single marine biologist who will eat shark, or most seafood, for that matter.”
Many sources note sharks essentially urinate through their skin, making it necessary to soak the meat to cover the ammonia-like smell before cooking it.
While laws regulate commercial fishing and techniques worldwide, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations say, “the bag limits for shortfin mako shark, thresher shark, and blue shark allow take of two per day with no size limit.”