A local charter fisherman out with friends tracking tarpon on Friday discovered they had some unexpected company in the pursuit in the form of a hammerhead shark.
- Shark estimated at 12 feet long or more
- Shark bumped group's boat multiple times while pursuing tarpon
- At one point, tarpon jumped into boat to elude shark
Like most people do when telling fishing stories, Captain Rob Gorta extended his arms to show the size of the creature he encountered.
"It was probably that wide, it was 3 and a half, four foot wide," Gorta said.
But this is more than a tall tale - Gorta has the proof. The charter fisherman was tracking a school of tarpon with some friends Friday, about quarter mile off Anna Maria Island.
A hammerhead shark had the same idea.
At least 12 feet long, the massive fish was looking for lunch in a school of tarpon. Gorta filmed the encounter on his cell phone, and the video shows the shark circling the boat, bumping into the boat, and going after tarpon.
Click HERE to watch Capt. Gorta's video on YouTube. (WARNING: due to language used in the video, parental discretion is advised!)
"I was shaking," said Gorta. "You don't know what's going on because you're just concentrated on filming and when you actually watch the footage, that's when you realize what happened. Just an incredible moment."
The shark got so close it bumped into the boat multiple times. It found its prey and struggled with it, the tarpon refusing to go without a fight.
"He got a hold of that fish, the fish came towards us and sensed there was cover and ended up jumping in the back of the boat and then flopped back into the water," Gorta said.
That moment, the veteran fisherman said, was the most dangerous.
"It's a fish that's 100 pounds," he said. "I'm lucky it jumped back in the water because it could break a lot of things. It could've knocked one of us in the water. We could've been in with the shark."
No one did end up in the water, and the fish quickly flopped back into the sea. After about a minute and a half, the shark successfully caught the tarpon and ate it. Captain Gorta and his friends never saw the hammerhead again.