A great white shark measuring 8-9 feet was hooked Tuesday afternoon by an angler fishing for bat rays on the Manhattan Beach Pier, but the line was cut after the shark was reeled to the surface and the angler realized he had hooked a state-protected species.
Eric Martin, director of the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium at the end of the pier, said the angler willingly cut the line to set the shark free.
In early July, a smaller white shark was reeled up from the same South Bay pier and Martin was able to persuade the angler to cut the line only after a heated argument and a call to local police.
Of Tuesday's incident Martin said, via email: "He actually kept it on the line long enough that I was able to click off a few photos. Then I told him I am cutting the line [and] he said go ahead!
"I also told him I will give him some photos. He was really happy then. So I guess the main thing was everybody came out ahead. The guy got to fight a great white shark. I got my photos, and the shark was free."
Martin added: "I have to say one thing that was funny: Seconds after the shark was set free a swimmer swam right in front of the shark and the shark went under the swimmer and the swimmer had no idea what just swam under him."
White sharks are protected in California. Unlawful take and possession is a misdemeanor and those in violation face possible jail time and hefty fines.
Juvenile white sharks utilize Southern California coastal waters as a nursery area. They feed mostly on small fishes and rays. White sharks are not considered particularly dangerous to swimmers and surfers until they reach about 12 feet and begin preying on seals and sea lions.-- Image showing white shark hooked Tuesday from the Manhattan Beach Pier is courtesy of Eric Martin