Ian Atherton was in for quite the surprise during his Florida vacation. The Brit made a list of things for his bucket list, with catching a shark at the very top.
Instead of a shark, Atherton was able to catch and release a giant 13-foot smalltooth sawfish. This rarer distant cousin to a shark is listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which makes the sighting even more incredible.
Atherton joined Captain Jon Cangianella of Fin & Fly charters in Cocoa Beach, Florida, to begin a half day of shark fishing and other popular fish later in the trip.
A few miles away from Port Canaveral, Atherton deployed a chunk of bluefish into the ocean in hopes that the oily fish would draw in sharks. Bluefish tend to have a scent that sharks can smell from a large distance once it makes its way into the ocean’s currents.
After a tug of war battle that lasted around an hour, Atherton was able to reel in the fish. Cangianella, a seasoned professional, knew that what was on the other line might not even be a shark. A 13-foot sawfish over was on the other end of the line. Normally, a large sawfish can grow to around 16 feet, with their saw ranging from four to five feet. Their long rostrum resembles that of a hedge trimmer, which they will use to wack their prey. Cangianella was able to capture the moment on video and posted it on his Instagram.
Although Atherton didn’t end up catching a shark like he wanted, he got a completely unique experience out of the trip. There are only five sawfish specie worldwide and the only ones found in Florida waters.