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Lejeune Marines catch 14-foot shark on fishing voyage

Aug. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Fishermen, locals and a university shark biologist are still clamoring about an estimated 700-pound, 14-foot tiger shark found in the Atlantic Ocean last weekend off the shores of North Myrtle Beach.

Six Marines from Camp Lejeune were visiting the area for a bachelor party when they decided to take a shark charter at Fish Hook Charters Aug. 17.

Capt. Richard Long Jr., a third-generation fisherman and captain of the Fish Hook No. 2 vessel that day, said he, the boat’s mate Brandon Johnson, and the six Marines were aboard the 43-foot boat in about 35 feet of water around three miles off shore when they spotted the shark.

“I’ve not seen nobody put a shark like that to pier in my years as a fisherman,” Long said. “We saw him swim by and we chased him with our boat for over 2 1/2 miles. When we caught him, we actually handled this shark with no gun, no harpoon... we tied a rope noose on her tail. We drug her backwards, which caused her to drown.”

Tiger sharks are one of the top three sharks implicated in unprovoked fatal attacks throughout the world, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Off the Atlantic coast of the United States, tiger sharks are found from Cape Cod, Mass., to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, according to the NOAA website. These sharks inhabit coastal waters close to shore to outer continental shelf and offshore including oceanic island groups, the NOAA states.

Tiger sharks are one of the larger shark species, and the largest individuals are believed to exceed 18 feet and 2,000 pounds, according to the NOAA, and adults mature at about 9 feet.

Long said half the battle is catching the shark and the other half is bringing the shark in if the charter tourist wants to keep it. South Carolina law allows people to keep one shark per boat per trip that exceeds 54 inches, said Ronnie Atkinson of Fish Hook Charters.

“We don’t kill them unless people are going to keep them,” Atkinson said. “That was a huge one.”

Fishermen, and the tourists, used bonito for bait.

Alex Rhyne, who lives in nearby Paradise Island in Little River, said there were about 40 or 50 people gathered in the parking lot at nearby Captain Poo’s Bar & Grill to see the massive catch.

“Being that close to the shore like that, I’ve never seen that,” Rhyne said. “This is the real thing.”

It’s still quite a ways away from the record-breaking shark Walter Maxwell landed on June 14, 1964 — a 1,780-pound tiger shark from the end of Cherry Grove Fishing Pier in North Myrtle Beach.

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