By Pete Thomas
Two Western Australian anglers gained notoriety this week after landing an enormous hammerhead shark and tiger shark from the beach.
Jethro Bonnitcha and Joshua Butterworth, of the Esperance area, released both sharks after posing for photos.
The hammerhead measured 13 feet 6 inches. The tiger shark was not measured but was at least 12 feet long, Butterworth said.
Bonnitcha was handling the rod during both marathon battles, and nearly collapsed from fatigue during the 2.5-hour fight with the hammerhead. Butterworth assisted with the precarious beach landings, and releases.
“You can’t catch sharks like that alone,” he said, via email.
The location was somewhere in “on the mid-west coast” and the lines were baited with large fish and delivered to reef channels.
Photos of both sharks first appeared Tuesday on the Rogue Offshore Facebook page, and were widely shared and publicized.
Butterworth addressed Internet criticism from those who do not appreciate sharks being posed for photos.
"We only bring them out long enough for a photo, and water is still going over their gills,” he said. “Then it's a bit dodgy, but you have to try and lift their pectoral fins and head up and drag them back into the water with a surge of a wave.”
Butterworth later added: “We swim them back out to deeper water and spend as much time as needed to get them swimming off strong, not just swimming off. We don’t have them on the sand for long.”
The Rogue Offshore post was shared more than 2,500 times.
–Photos: Joshua Butterworth (left) and Jethro Bonnitcha with the giant hammerhead; Bonnitcha with the tiger shark; Bonnitcha with the hammerhead; both anglers releasing the tiger shark. Photos courtesy of Joshua Butterworth