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Huge catch turns into rescue mission for shark pups

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VENICE, Fla. – It’s no secret that some large sharks roam the Gulf waters off the Suncoast. But an angler’s recent encounter with an estimated 12-foot long hammerhead in Venice resulted in an incredible turn of events that was caught on video.

Sarasota resident Noe Campos loves to catch sharks. “We fish off the beach. No kill at all."

Saturday night near the Venice fishing pier he and some buddies hooked a big one. "We knew it was a big fish because it was just stripping line off a lot."

While reeling it in it got tangled around a piling. "We tried to work it loose but we couldn't".

So what did Noe do? He swam out of course.

Ashley Travis says she couldn't believe her eyes. She later posted the video to the Venice Scoop Facebook page. "My first thought was get out your camera and start videotaping."

"I wasn't thinking it might bite me. It was more that I wanted to save the fish. It was a big fish; I would rather save the fish,” says Campos.

After a few minutes in the water with what turned out to be a 12 foot hammerhead, Noe was able to get a rope around it and pull it to shore.

Then the surprises started.

The hammerhead was dying. While reeling it in, something had taken a huge chunk out of the fish. "We turned it on its side and saw a big bite mark taken out of it."

Then they saw pups coming out the side. Noe and friends started to perform a C-section of sorts. "They survived. The ones I put in the water, they took right off."

Scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say if the pups were fully developed, it's possible they survived.

Ashley says she saw at least 20. "People still don't believe me. They don't think it was real."

She also has a new appreciation for the water. "I am definitely having second thoughts about swimming in the ocean again."

Noe says it's a shame the mother died, saying they did what they could to lessen the impacts. "I just tried to save the fish. I thank everyone for helping."

Warning: Video contains graphic language and images


Video courtesy: Ashley Travis