Huntington Beach Pier has been crowded recently with shark fishermen and on Tuesday a YouTube user by the name of Ograza 13 uploaded a video showing the illegal capture of a juvenile great white shark that was stuck with a rope gaff, hauled onto the Orange County, Calif., pier and dragged around as it bled and gasped for breath.
Thanks to a tip from a witness and the incriminating footage, the angler who reeled in the five-foot shark has been identified and is under investigation for the take and possession of a protected species.
"We have the shark and we've identified who caught the shark," said Capt. Dan Sforza of the state Department of Fish and Game. "We are investigating and nobody is going to get away with anything."
Sforza declined to identify the angler. White sharks have been protected in California waters since 1994. Unlawful take and possession is a misdemeanor and those in violation face possible jail time and large fines.
Southern California waters are utilized by juvenile white sharks as a feeding ground. They prey mostly on small fishes, rays and other small sharks until they get large enough to migrate offshore and to the north to prey on seals and sea lions.
In the video, one person on the pier repeatedly calls out the word "mako," perhaps believing the quarry was a mako shark. Makos are not protected, but it's an angler's responsibility to understand the law and what he has on the line.