An enormous tiger shark – perhaps one of the largest landed in the Atlantic – was captured and released Tuesday by researchers at South Bimini, Bahamas.
The Bimini Sharklab tweeted an image showing the 13-foot predator upside down and immobilized, revealing its size in relation to the crew’s 22-foot boat.
— BBFSF Sharklab (@BiminiSharkLab) February 14, 2017
Tiger sharks, which are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, can measure to about 14 feet – but specimens that long are rare in the Atlantic.
Matthew Smukall, a PhD student at the Bimini Sharklab, told GrindTV that the female shark, caught via longline gear at South Bimini, was “the largest the Sharklab has caught in nearly 40 years of longline surveys in Bimini.”
Smukall appears in the tweeted photo, measuring the shark’s girth at 173 centimeters, or just over 68 inches.
The shark was fitted with a 10-year acoustic tag that will reveal its location when it appears within 400 meters of any of dozens of receiving stations around Bimini and along the U.S. East Coast.
The shark also was fitted with a microchip transponder and a National Marine Fisheries Service dart tag for identification purposes upon recapture.
It’s the second giant tiger shark tagged and released in two weeks by the Sharklab, which conducts monthly longline surveys as part of an ongoing population assessment. The other was a slightly smaller male.
Bimini Sharklab, which also posted the photo to Facebook, stated that the shark “was so large that we struggled measuring her on the boat.” She was estimated to be at least 20 years old.
Said Smukall: “After this quick [sampling and tagging] workup by Sharklab staff and volunteers she was released in very good condition and swam away strong.”