A shark’s tale

Spa­niard’s Bay fish­er­man has meet­ing with por­bea­gle shark

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NICHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The first day of the recre­ational fish­ery started off like any other for Fred Hum­ber.

On July 20, the Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dent, along with his nephew, Troy Hum­ber, and friend Kirk Smith were on the wa­ter of For­tune Har­bour in the Bay of Ex­ploits en­joy­ing a sto­ried New­found­land tra­di­tion.

The trio, us­ing Fred’s brother’s sixme­tre alu­minum ves­sel, were only out for an hour when some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary hap­pened.

Hav­ing al­ready caught a dozen At­lantic cod, Fred dropped his line in look­ing to fill their max­i­mum catch.

What he hooked wasn’t ex­actly what he had planned.

His hook brought up in some­thing solid.

“I thought I had hooked the bot­tom at first be­cause it was just one solid bring-up. I ei­ther snagged a rock or be­tween rocks,” Fred told the Com­pass.

How­ever, when he re­leased the line, it started to move away from the boat.

That was when Fred re­al­ized he had hooked some­thing big.

At first, he had no idea what could be on the other end of his line.

“I thought it could’ve been one of those large cod from days of old,” he said. “A 50 pound cod fish. There was a lot of power. So, we knew it was some­thing strange.”

For five min­utes, Fred, with the help of Troy, fought with the an­i­mal be­fore even­tu­ally bring­ing it to the sur­face.

What came up was un­ex­pected. Ris­ing from the green depths was a por­bea­gle shark.

When it broke the sur­face, the beast was thrashing and did a cou­ple of rolls in an at­tempt to break away from the line.

“We were shocked. Absolutely shocked,” said Fred. “We weren’t ter­ri­fied, but we were anx­ious.”

The por­bea­gle

The por­bea­gle is a species of mack­erel shark and is of­ten found in the wa­ters of the North At­lantic.

As per Na­ture Canada, the por­bea­gle shark maxes out at 3.7 me­tres in length and 134 kilo­grams.

“He was a pow­er­ful beast,” said Fred.

The por­bea­gle is a shark that is not known to at­tack hu­mans, but is a pop­u­lar catch for recre­ational fish­er­man and com­mer­cial fish­er­man.

Probea­gle males are thought to mi­grate along the Nova Sco­tian Shelf to the New­found­land mat­ing grounds in the spring.

Let­ting go

Once Fred had tamed this wild mon­ster, the next ques­tion was what to do with it.

“We had to do the right thing, and let it go,” he said.

There were a cou­ple of op­tions for do­ing that.

Fred, and his com­pan­ions, thought to cut the line, leav­ing the hook in its mouth.

But, that could fur­ther harm the an­i­mal.

“He could have pos­si­bly swal­lowed that, and died,” he said.

That was when Troy took out his knife, gin­gerly reached over the boat and cut a tiny in­ci­sion next to the hook.

Af­ter it was re­moved, the shark swam away from the boat.

“We were more than de­lighted,” said Fred.

Re­search pur­poses

A video was made of the catch and re­lease, which Fred hopes to be able to show to his grand­chil­dren.

Also, to his un­der­stand­ing, the footage has been taken by re­searchers and en­tered into their ar­chives.

“It’s not a bad piece to show kids in school,” he said.

Fred does not know of any­one who has had this sort of in­ter­ac­tion with a shark.

“It’s a once in a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Spa­niard’s Bay’s Fred Hum­ber hold­ing a cou­ple of cod fish.

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