Bethany Beach Shark Fishing Video Being Investigated by DNREC



Above …. Bethany Beach Shark Fishing Video Being Investigated by DNREC

Taylor Thornton, sitting on the sand bar shark
Taylor Thornton sitting on the sandbar shark

Last night a video (above) popped up in many of my friends’ Facebook news feeds and I was tagged a dozen times.  “Hey have you seen this? Isn’t this illegal in Delaware?”  It was a video of a guy pulling  a shark into the surf and dragging it up the beach, which is illegal with a sandbar shark.  To make matters worse he then sat on the shark and did a little patty cake slap on the shark’s back.  While telling everyone he is a “Shark Hugger” and has  great respect for these creatures.  That was the icing on the cake for my friends and they were infuriated.  Many of them including myself contacted Fish & Wildlife Enforcement.   For the record this is the first time I have ever turned anyone in for illegally handling a shark in the surf.  Usually I am sent or see a picture of someone doing it wrong and I let them know they need to keep the shark in the water.   For the most part they do respect that and make sure to never do it again.  Some tell me to mind my own business, but they are the ones putting it on social media, not me.  I am just offering friendly advice to keep them from getting in trouble.  I also want the sharks respected, but getting people into trouble after the fact isn’t going to get them to respect the creature.   I have seen it (pictures) less and less this year, but there are several cases that DNREC is investigating right now of sharks not being handled properly.  This rule only goes for dusky, sand bar and sand tiger sharks, do not remove them from the water, at all.  Many who break that rule,  do not fully understand the rules of keeping the shark in the water in the surf.  It can be a difficult task removing a hook from a large shark while waves are crashing on you, standing in knee to waist deep water, with a large shark.  It can be a pucker factor of ten, very thrilling, and scary.   That does not give anyone the excuse to land the shark and drag it up the beach.  Taking a picture with the shark is considered possession and you can be fined for the picture since it proves possession.   A good word of advice … If you do not know the species you have caught, then let it go.


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Shark Whisperers Guided Trips,  David Moore
Shark Whisperers Guided Trips .. David Moore

In order to properly work a shark people will catch and release in teams.  One person is a spotter that keeps an eye on the gear and the incoming waves.  A few people will help control the shark.  It is best to flip the sharks upside down (in the water) so they will be more docile and removing the hook is much easier.  If this process cannot be done in as little as thirty seconds, then you should cut the hook or leader as close to the hook and let the shark go immediately.  When we tagged sand tiger sharks for DSU we had to land, dehook, tag and release the shark in under three minutes.  That is not a lot of time when you have a ten foot plus shark on the beach.  We were only able to do this when a permit was present or on site for that particular shark, otherwise we were not to remove the shark from the water.  Shark fishing from the surf is not illegal in Delaware but make sure you  know what you are doing and have the proper gear to land and release a shark.  Spinning gear is fine if you are casting with heavy braided lines, but if you are using kayaks make sure you have reliable off shore gear.   The best thing to do is shark fish with someone who knows what they are doing.  I have a friend David Moore that fishes Assateague Island State Park, Shark Whisperers guided trips. That is the guy you want to hire take you shark fishing.  In Maryland you can remove these sharks from the water.  David is very skilled and tags many sharks for NOAA.  He has a great respect for these creatures and can teach you how to do it the right way.  Otherwsie find a crew that knows what they are doing and learn.  Trial and error surf fishing for sharks can get you hurt or in trouble, and can kill the animal.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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