Jen Merchant, a conservationist, and Corpus Christi fishing guide shared footage of herself catching a massive 11.5ft hammerhead shark as she was participating in a fishing tournament.
The tournament took place on North Padre Island, Texas, during Labor Day Weekend and she was in it with her husband Tim Merchant and her friend Dustin Hickey.
The tournament is called the Texas Shark Rodeo, which is a catch-photo-release shark-fishing tournament where anglers tag sharks and collect data that will be used to aid in conservation efforts.
Video showed her standing on top of a pickup truck parked in the sand when she hooked into the massive shark. It took about 45 minutes to reel the monster in. She said it was a workout that left her sore for days.
“I was stoked,” she said, according to Field & Stream. “I’ve been trying to get one over ten feet for a while. It’s definitely satisfying to achieve my personal best.”
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Once the shark was caught, she and her team collected a DNA sample and inserted a GPS tracking tag near the shark’s dorsal fin. They also noticed that the shark had multiple hooks in its mouth including one that was rubbing the shark’s mouth raw. They removed the other hooks to help the shark.
“I bet this fish was totally relieved that we were able to get this hook out and that he was able to swim away without that being there to hinder him anymore,” she said.
Jen and the team took several pictures with the beautiful creature before walking it back into deeper water and letting it go. It swam away safely and was probably much happier now that the hooks were removed.
“My favorite part of catching a fish like this is letting it go,” she added. “We’re all excited. We’re all happy. It’s just the best feeling.”