Poco Cedillo had only dreamed of catching a shark this big.
So when he reeled in that 14-foot hammerhead while on the Texas coast Saturday afternoon, he knew it was going to be his “shark catch of multiple lifetimes,” according to his Facebook post.
He posted that he “fought with it” for about an hour and 15 minutes, “which is beast mode for a shark that big.”
But as Cedillo led the hammerhead to Padre Island National Seashore, he and the other anglers noticed the shark was tired.
“We quickly took pics, got a length measurement, took the hook out and did all we could to get her released,” he posted to Facebook. “All that only took around 3-5 min while it (was) still in plenty deep water.”
Cedillo said they didn’t even try to measure the shark’s girth or fork length, and they didn’t try to tag the hammerhead.
“Our main focus was to get her released quickly,” he wrote. Cedillo also posted video of him and three other men trying to release the shark back into the ocean.
But the attempt was unsuccessful.
“Well after 30-40 min of us holding her up into the current in 3-4’ of water we were faced with accepting the fact that she was done,” he posted. “We were so tired, shark rashed and disappointed that it sucked the excitement right out of us for a while.”
In a message to The Wichita Eagle, he said he wanted people to know that they did not kill this shark “for fun.”
“We did everything we could to release it and it didn’t make it...,” he said. “The video of us trying to release it proves it and helps people understand what we do for these fish.”
Not wanting the shark to go to waste, the fishermen quickly decided to save the meat. They then cooled it down and donated the shark meat to Good Samaritan Rescue Mission in Corpus Christi, according to his post. The homeless shelter and soup kitchen confirmed to The Eagle that the meat was donated.
“No one hates that it didn’t make it more than us,” Cedillo said in a message to The Eagle. “I have caught hundreds of sharks and never have I killed one for fun or fame. It’s not what we do.”
He said just last month he was able to successfully release an 11-foot-8-inch hammerhead, which was also caught off Padres Island National Seashore.
“People that know me know that I release every single shark I catch so this hurts,” Cedillo wrote on Facebook. “Catching this fish of a lifetime and it not making it totally sucks for me, but it happens, especially since we tried hard.”
Cedillo isn’t positive why the shark died this time, but “hammerheads are known to fight till death,” he told The Eagle.
“They are very powerful and don’t give up easily,” he said.
In a 2014 study published in Science Daily, scientists at the University of Miami found that hammerheads are “by far the most vulnerable to fighting on a fishing line.”
The study said even if there is minimal fighting, the hammerheads build up a high level of lactic acid, which is linked to mortality in fish.
“Our results show that while some species, like tiger sharks, can sustain and even recover from minimal catch and release fishing, other sharks, such as hammerheads are more sensitive,” lead author Austin Gallagher said in a release.
Last month, Texas Parks and Wildlife posted about a different hammerhead shark that was caught and released in a remote area of Padre Island National Seashore.