A huge mako shark caught off the coast of California could set a record, but a critic said it should have been released because the creatures are threatened worldwide.
Jason Johnston caught the 1,323lb shark on Monday after a two and a half-hour battle, the Orange County Register said.
“I’ve hunted lions and brown bears, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Mr Johnston told the newspaper. “It felt like I had a one-ton diesel truck at the end of the line, and it wasn’t budging.”
If the catch is confirmed and meets conditions, it would exceed the record mako catch made in 2001 off Massachusetts, said Jack Vitek, world records co-ordinator for the International Game Fish Association.
But David McGuire, director of California-based protection advocacy group Shark Stewards, said the creature should have been released.
“People should be viewing these sharks as wonderful animals that are important to the ocean and admiring how beautiful they are” rather than “spilling their blood and guts,” he told the Times.
Only 23 of the 6,850 world records on file with the game association involve fish topping 1,300lbs, Mr Vitek said. The largest catch was a 2,664lb great white that was taken in 1959 off the Australian coast.
The shark is being kept on ice and will be donated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for research.
Mr Johnston, who came to California to film a game-hunting TV programme for the Outdoor Channel, defended the catch.
“There are not that many sharks being taken out of the water,” he told the Times. “It’s not hurting the population. If we pull four fish out of the water per year, that’s just four.”