A tagged 11-foot (3.4 m) tiger shark has been re-caught off a Florida Beach.
Zach Wolk caught the shark October 25 while fishing from the Cape San Blas beach in the Gulf of Mexico. When the Texas angler measured the shark, he noticed it had a scientific tracking tag.
“Chubby 11’5 female tiger with a 71-inch girth caught and released, she was previously tagged and her info will be reported! [I] can’t wait to see the information from her previous tag!” Wolk wrote on Instagram.
While the massive shark is impressive in its own right, what the tag revealed was even more astonishing.
Wolk reported the tag information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Panama City Laboratory.
NOAA Fisheries research ecologist Dana Bethea received Wolk’s tiger shark tag information and was surprised to find that it was one digit short of the tag numbers placed on fish in the last few years. After some research she found the shark was actually tagged 10 years before on the same exact date.
On October 25, 2006, the shark was caught and tagged 74 miles (119 km) from Cape San Blas when it was only a 32-inch (81.3 cm) long pup. While the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s database records go back to 1993, this catch is the oldest they have ever had reported.
“This is the first data we have for a tiger shark from practically birth to maturity, helping further refine growth for this species,” Bethea told GrindTV.
“The database contains information on over 19,000 animals, dating back to 1993,” she said. “Several recaptures are called in each year by recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and colleagues.
“Most recaptures are weeks or months old. Every once and awhile we’ll get a tag that’s been at liberty for a couple years. This is the first recapture we’ve had like this!”
She also said the NOAA benefits from citizen-scientists like Wolk who report and tag their catches.
Wolk returned the live tiger shark safely back into the water.