Shocking social media footage shows the moment a man at Smith Point Beach on Fire Island, New York, battled a shark with his bare hands.
The video, originally filmed by Emily Murray (@yessiryesher), was posted to Instagram on Sunday by Only In Mastic (@only_in_mastic), along with two photos of the jaw-dropping moment. The post has received over 2,300 likes and dozens of comments criticizing the man for “removing” the shark from the ocean.
According to Murray, however, the man didn’t intend to wrestle or capture the shark.
“He had been fishing and caught the shark by accident,” Murray told the New York Post. “He was attempting to unhook it and cut it free.”
Multiple reports stated that the shark seen in Murray’s video was believed to be a sand tiger shark—a “prohibited” or “protected” shark species in the state of New York. On its website, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said that it is illegal for anglers to target, “take” or possess prohibited shark species.
“‘Take’ is defined in New York’s Environmental Conservation Law Section 11-0103 (13) and includes pursuing, killing and capturing sharks. It also includes all lesser acts such as disturbing, harrying or worrying, or using any device commonly used to take sharks,” the department explained.
“If a prohibited shark is hooked, the angler must release the prohibited shark immediately and in a manner that maximizes the shark’s chance of survival,” the department continued.
To release a prohibited shark, the department says all anglers should minimize their “fight time” and handling and avoid dragging the shark onto dry land.
“Dragging a shark by the tail can severely injure the animal,” the department said.
In Murray’s video, the man struggles against the waves to bring the not-small shark ashore.
The current and the fighting shark aren’t making it easy for the fisherman, who keeps a tight grip on the line, but dances in and out of the water’s edge, seemingly trying to avoid a shark bite.
After a few tense moments of tug-of-war with the shark, however, he finally gets close enough to the shark to grab its tail fin and drag it up the beach.
“Holy s**t,” Murray said from behind the camera.
Photos attached to the Instagram post show the man holding the shark still as another angler uses bolt cutters to remove the hook.
“This is so crazy,” commented troyclimateaction.
In a statement to Newsweek, Murray said she watched the men release the shark back into the ocean after the hook was removed.
Other Shark Encounters
As it turns out, beach-goers have spotted multiple sharks near Fire Island this summer.
A man was bitten by a sand tiger shark last month while surfing at Smith Point Country Park, Newsweek reported. Not long after, a lifeguard was bitten by a shark while treading water at Fire Island’s Ocean Beach.
Outside of New York, a shark was seen stalking swimmers at Daytona Beach last week. And a now-viral TikTok video filmed last week shows a shark eating its lunch near the shoreline of Clearwater Beach.