Florida Panhandle fishermen reel in great white shark

Fishermen in Florida's Panhandle made a rare catch: A 10-foot-long great white shark.

Navarre Beach Fishing Pier employee Thomas Thielman told reporters his True Blue Sharks fishing team took over an hour to reel in the 650-pound shark Tuesday afternoon after snagging it using bonito as bait.

A tourist from Oklahoma who recorded the catch on video called it “an amazing experience to watch.”

“Got down to the end [of the pier] and saw one of the men had something on his line and decided to stick around to see what he caught. Did not think it was going to be a shark,” Alisha Day told FOX 13 News.

Thielman said it's not unusual to see great whites in gulf waters, but it's rare to catch one.  In fact, according to the News Herald, it's the first time a great white shark has been caught off the pier, which is near Pensacola.

Since great white sharks are a protected species and cannot be kept, Thielman and his group tagged the animal, then released it back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Image 1 of 6

In video shared by Day, the men can be seen wading into shallow water to hold the fishing line and measure the shark from its nose to the tip of its tail.  They struggle in the waves to make sure the shark was clear of the line, then guide it back out to sea.

Cheers erupt from onlookers on the beach once it’s clear the shark is back on its own.

“The men running the line at the top and the men in the water that tagged and made sure the shark made it back out to the ocean did an exceptional job,” Day noted.

FOX 13 reported this story from Tampa. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.