In a risky and daring display of bravado, a swimmer at Cape Henlopen State Park on Sunday caught a shark with his bare hands, grabbed hold of its nose and wrestled open its mouth before eventually setting the shark free.
The entire escapade was caught on video by Delaware resident Rachael Foster, who shared the video to her Facebook page.
With TMZ and the UK’s tabloid The Sun quickly pouncing on the breaking news opportunity, the video sparked a feeding frenzy on social media. It has now been viewed more than 200,000 times on multiple social media outlets. Foster’s Facebook page alone has 726 shares.
A woman can be heard on the video saying, “Oh my god, that’s a big a** shark.”
In the video, a buff, tanned man is seen standing in waist-high water pulling what looks to be a five-foot shark and then strapping his left arm around the shark’s body while quickly reaching with his right hand to pull open its mouth.
Turns out he was trying to remove a hook from its mouth after a friend of the swimmer’s caught the shark in his fishing line.
“His buddy simply caught a shark, and he went out and opened his mouth to get the hook out,” Foster said on Facebook.
The video shows one young mom, with her toddler son on her hip, standing just feet away from the unfolding incident, pointing in amazement. The man can be seen directly facing the beach, where he wrestling with the shark for about 30 seconds and manages to hold open its mouth for five seconds.
After removing the hook, the swimmer turns around and lets the shark go in deeper water. Then the video cuts off. Several people were on the beach at the time, including some children.
State wildlife experts say the swimmer grabbed a tiger shark. State law requires fishermen to release that kind of shark immediately because it’s considered a prohibited species.
This is the second news-making incident involving a shark this summer at Cape Henlopen State Park. On June 4 a 12-year-old boy was reportedly nipped by a shark while surfing off Herring Point. He was hospitalized for puncture wounds to a leg.
Foster knew that without context her thrilling video might also spark controversy. “For anyone commenting how this guy should’ve left the shark alone, or that this isn’t right you really need to educate yourself. He did this by the book and was totally legal with it!” she wrote on Facebook.
According to state law, it is legal to catch and release sharks like the one seen on June 17. DNREC’s the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife says sand tiger and sandbar sharks are prohibited from being kept and must be released back into the ocean to “ensure the maximum probability of survival.”