PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WBTW) — A Georgetown County resident reeled in a bonnethead shark over the weekend.
A bonnethead shark is a type of hammerhead shark.
Johnny Cooper’s fishing rod caught beachgoers’ attention Saturday afternoon when they noticed it pulling him closer to the water.
Once he reeled in the shark, he unhooked it and threw it back in.
Daniel Abel, a marine science professor at Coastal Carolina University, said once they’re caught, the time starts ticking for the sharks to be released safely.
This wasn’t the first hammerhead Cooper’s caught, but he said every time he has, it’s been while boat fishing — never surf fishing.
“Five of the nine total kinds of the hammerhead sharks are found in our waters,” he said.
Abel said a bonnethead is the most common to catch out of the five.
“It’s not rare to catch one but their diet is specialized. They like to eat crabs and crustaceans and small fish,” Abel said. “So, they don’t always pick up the bait that we may be using when targeting other species.”
Cooper said it’s easy to tell the difference between a bonnethead from other hammerhead sharks because they have rounded heads and spots along their bodies.
Abel added that these sharks have small teeth, so they aren’t a threat to people swimming at the beach.
“They get to be about five feet long as adults and they mature right around the size that he has,” he said.
Cooper said surf fishing is more challenging.
“You got to really cast out a good wave sometimes to get a good fish and the waves pulling your line,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to distinguish between the bite and the waves and the wind movement.”
Cooper said he also caught four black tip sharks, blues and whiting kroger and some sea trout.
“When I got it up on the beach after a 20-minute fight, it was pretty exciting,” he said.
Cooper said he threw the bonnethead and the black tip sharks back, but kept the other caught fish.