An Alabama saltwater fishing record has potentially been shattered with the recent catch of a tiger shark. The current state record for a tiger shark catch stands at 988 pounds, 8 ounces. Larry Eberly caught that shark in 1990 near Gulf Shores. That 33-year-old record is now poised to fall. Brett Rutledge caught a tiger shark weighing 1,019 pounds on July 22. For a bit of perspective, that is the weight of an average adult moose!
Potential Alabama Record
Rutledge caught this monster shark while competing in the 90th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. The tournament is the largest of its kind in the world, with over 3,000 anglers competing. The event takes place at Dauphin Island, where Mobile Bay joins the Gulf of Mexico.
Rutledge and his fellow anglers started the day targeting swordfish but with no luck. They switched tactics and began trolling lures as they returned to shore. The anglers caught seven sharks, but none would compare with the colossus that Rutledge hooked.
The angler told local news station WALA that it took 45 minutes to land this fish that weighed over half a ton. The length of the shark has not been documented, but according to Outdoor Life, it is estimated to be well over ten feet long.
You can see the footage of the weigh-in that documented the shark’s massive size in the YouTube video below.
Other large fish caught during the tournament included two billfish weighing 423 and 557 pounds and two other tiger sharks weighing 557 and 590 pounds. All impressive catches, to be sure, but nothing compared with the behemoth tiger shark caught by Rutledge.
Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier)
The tiger shark gets its name from the dark gray or black vertical stripes on its back, similar to those of a tiger. The stripes tend to fade as the fish ages.
This shark has gray skin with a white belly. It has a large head with a rounded, blunt nose. Its teeth are curved inward and feature sharp, serrated edges. The tiger shark’s teeth can break through the hard shells of turtles and clams.
These sharks live in tropical waters all over the world, including the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where Rutledge caught his potential record fish.
Tiger sharks are the fourth-largest shark species in the world, behind whale sharks, basking sharks, and great white sharks (although sometimes tigers can outgrow great whites). Tiger sharks can grow from 850-1400 pounds and can measure up to 14 feet long.
Given their tremendous size and razor-sharp teeth, it comes as no surprise that these sharks are apex predators in their environment. Orcas are the only animal that can hunt adult tiger sharks.
Human Encounters With Tiger Sharks
Tiger sharks have a fearsome reputation. In fact, they are sometimes called maneater sharks. They are among the most aggressive sharks in the world toward humans. There have been hundreds of documented tiger shark attacks on humans, including dozens of fatalities. Sand tiger sharks, the smallest type of tiger shark, were responsible for five attacks over the July 4 holiday weekend in New York State. Sand tigers are typically less aggressive than tiger sharks, but those attacks prove even sand tigers will bite humans.
It is important to note that sharks rarely seek encounters with humans. Most shark/human incidents result from mistaken identity where a shark sees movement, a flash in the water, or some other visual stimuli that it mistakes for baitfish or some other food source. Still, some sharks are much more likely to bite humans than others, and tiger sharks are near the top of the list.
This recent video of a tiger shark biting a kayak in Hawaii shows just how fast and potentially devastating an encounter with one of these large sharks can be.
World Record Tiger Shark
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources must review the measurements of Rutledge’s catch before it can be certified as a state record. While it appears the shark will be recorded as a new record for Alabama, the world record remains safe.
The world record tiger shark weighed an astonishing 1,785 pounds and 11 ounces. However, it is officially recorded as a tie with a slightly smaller shark due to International Game Fish Association rules.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Matt9122/Shutterstock.com
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