OUTER BANKS, N.C. – Three men made quite the catch while fishing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These men from Chesterfield hooked a seven-foot shark. Auther Eggleston, Zack Levine, and Michael Eggleston brought the shark ashore for a few moments and then released it back into the waters. The shark swam away unharmed.
Michael Eggleston said they caught about six to eight sharks, but the sand tiger shark was the biggest.
"We have been shark fishing in Corolla every year for the past 7 years," he said. "The sharks are always there."
He said, when asked about the recent shark attacks, that there could be multiple, reasonable explanations.
"There was an abundance of cow nose sting ray cruising the beach this year, which we have never experienced before when we have been there," Eggleston said. "Sharks love eating sting rays so this could have something to do with the attacks."
"But I am by no means a shark behavior expert, those are just my thoughts. "
Zach Levine called his 40-minute fight with the largest catch of his life “very exhausting.”
Levine brought in the shark with the help of the Eggleston brothers who are much more experienced fishermen.
“I noticed he was messing with the pole so I come back and it was on then,” Auther Eggleston said.
Auther and his brother, Michael Eggleston, travel to the Outer Banks every summer to go fishing and frequently catch sharks.
“We catch’em every year,” Auther Eggleston said.
But, this is their biggest one yet.
“I just grabbed him by the nose and opened his mouth … a whole bunch of teeth,” Michael Eggleston said.
“Any of us could have been bit,” Auther Eggleston said.
They said this catch cleared the water.
“After they saw that, they figured their swimming was done for the weekend,” Auther Eggleston said.
Yet, it did not stop Auther from getting down on one knee, in practically the very same spot where they caught the shark, and proposing to what he calls the most important catch of his life (She said yes) .
“My first thought was it’s pretty crazy," said Brian Dorn, Director of Operations and Husbandry for the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo. "But actually when you look at it closely, they were just fishing off the beach. It looked like the guys that were doing it had done it before.”
Since June 11, an 8-year-old child, several teenagers and adults up and down the Carolina coast have been injured in shark attacks, some losing limbs.
“In such a short period of time, this is something that is interesting,” said Beth Firchau, Senior Curator with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
“With the millions of people that come and visit and spend time and have no problem what so ever at the beach, this is still a very rare thing and we need to keep that in perspective,” said Firchau. “When you go to the beach you need to remember we’re not going into our families pool or community pool, you’re going into a place that’s very, very wild and it has critters in there that’s making their living as best they can and they’re in close proximity to you.
“Sharks are in our oceans and they’re a very important part of our ecosystem they are like the lions of the Serengeti, they keep everybody on track,” stated Firchau.
Experts suggest you always swim in a group, and emphasized that where and when people swim in the ocean is also important.
“Don’t swim early in the morning and late at night alone,” said Firchau. “Those are the times I call the ‘ocean rush hour,’ where critters are out looking for their dinner or looking for their breakfast.”
“Swimming in areas where fishing is taking place is something you need to be aware of and I would focus on areas where lifeguards are present and knowing your limits,” added Firchau. “We are spending more time at the beaches, so we are entering their environment at higher numbers, but statistically it is still a safe place to be.”