Feb 14, 2018, 10:40 AM ET

Hammerhead shark dragged to shore by beachgoers may die, expert says

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A great hammerhead shark in distress was pulled ashore by beachgoers on an island off the coast of Florida, Thursday morning.

Leigh Cobb, a shark activist and educator, shot video of the moment, which she described as "devastating."

At 9:30 a.m. on Singer Island, just north of West Palm Beach, Cobb told ABC News she was on a boat headed out to dive with sharks when spotted a commotion on the beach.

"I saw the dorsal fin and I screamed," she said. "I screamed, 'Oh my god, that's a great hammerhead!'"

She took out her phone to record the scene: Beachgoers trying to remove a hook from the shark's fin and taking selfies with the beached animal.

PHOTO: Leigh Cobb took video of a hammerhead shark being pulled ashore by beachgoers on Singer Island, Florida on Feb 8, 2018.Courtesy Leigh Cobb
Leigh Cobb took video of a hammerhead shark being pulled ashore by beachgoers on Singer Island, Florida on Feb 8, 2018.

"[Great hammerhead sharks] don't survive after being taken out of the water," Cobb explained, saying that the stress usually causes a hammerhead shark to have lactic acid build up that cannot be reversed, which often leads to death.

"It will die within two weeks," she said. "Absolutely no doubt about it."

In the video Cobb recorded, she was heard screaming at the people on the beach to "get the shark back in the water."

"It broke my heart," said Cobb. "They are the most graceful, beautiful animals ever."

The crowd of beachgoers cheered at the end of the video when they release the shark back to the ocean.

Cobb claims that the shark may have been lured close to shore because of a technique called "blood baiting," which is when fisherman drop fish blood in the ocean to attract sharks.

After witnessing the incident, Cobb said she returned to shore and canceled her plans to dive because she couldn't catch her breath or slow her adrenaline.

"I don’t understand why they do it," Cobb said of "blood baiting," which is also known as chumming. "Is it for the trophy photo with a hook in shark?"

PHOTO: Leigh Cobb took video of a hammerhead shark being pulled ashore by beachgoers on Singer Island, Florida on Feb 8, 2018.Courtesy Leigh Cobb
Leigh Cobb took video of a hammerhead shark being pulled ashore by beachgoers on Singer Island, Florida on Feb 8, 2018.

"[Chumming is] unfortunately too prevalent," Marie Levine, the executive director of the Shark Research Institute, told ABC News.

"Sharks don’t normally survive [being pulled ashore] because the sharks sustain damage," she added.

Levine says hammerhead sharks, which are endangered, don't usually come colose to shore unless they are baited.

"[Hammerhead sharks] do not normally come close to shore. They had to have lured it," Levine said, adding that hammerhead sharks are endangered.

However, the laws around shark fishing vary based on country, state, and species, and the consequences can range from fines to jail time, Levine said.

Cobb reported the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"FWC law enforcement is aware of the video and is looking into the incident," a spokesperson for the agency told ABC News in a statement.

The FWC advises that fishers should not chum for sharks from the beach or in close proximity to swimming beaches or near swimmers.

"Hammerhead sharks are prohibited from harvest in state waters," the statement added, "and if caught must be released immediately and unharmed."

The FWC is encouraging anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

News - Hammerhead shark dragged to shore by beachgoers may die, expert says

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  • Joe Citizen

    nothing but conjecture here by this woman. It looks to me like it was hooked and released without any shenanigans. blood baiting....not these guys...

  • Eddie

    The way they stated it, it sounded like it was snagged. Maybe the did chum the waters, which would bring in a number of fish and sharks. Not like the person was targeting Hammer Heads.

  • Thomas

    "Levine says hammerhead sharks, which are endangered, don't usually come colose to shore unless they are baited."

    Yikes, these professional journalists can't blame this on the spell checker.

    Despite this, what a sad story. Sharks are part of nature and have their place.

  • Dawn Eve

    There are just as many animal abuse stories coming out of the UK and Australia. Women throwing cats in trash cans, putting dogs in plastic bags and throwing them in the Thames and many more. People are stupid EVERYWHERE.

  • ceptic

    The Selfie Generation.
    Can't seem to care beyond the Photo Op.

  • travis Dejesus

    Perhaps the lady screaming on the video should have aided the shark instead of being a cheerleader.

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    This woman, Leigh Cobb, just shows how the loonies in this country get attention.
    She is a "shark activist" who does "diving with the sharks"!!!!!
    What she is is a mental case who needs some kind of psychological treatment.

  • jw619

    It will chow down on some people and be happy

  • Klassy 1

    thugs

  • RRbane

    Leave these beautiful animals alone, you stupid selfies-idiots!

  • EastCoastGirl

    Humans might be the worst creatures on Earth smh.

  • xThatxSamexDudex

    Colose to shore. Guessing that means "really, really close"?

  • Franky Franke

    May die?? News flash it WILL die... As all living things do. #GETOVERIT

  • Crow T Racoon

    people really suck

  • Kevin

    Is it me or does it look like the man in all black on the beach look like a police or some type of security officer? Might be a person of interest to shed some light on this I would think.

  • Jenna

    Jerks!

  • Kevin

    Is it me or does it look like the man in all black on the beach look like a police or some type of security officer? Might be a person of interest to shed some light on this I would think.

  • Brian 9876

    According to the article:
    After witnessing the incident, Cobb said she returned to shore and canceled her plans to dive because she couldn't catch her breath or slow her adrenaline.

    That tells me everything I need to know about Leigh Cobb.

  • Rudi Stein

    you go in the cage, cage goes in the water, you go in the water. shark's in the water...our shark

  • disqus_fn5s2QCDp8

    But we've already killed all the large land animals in the area. We're just having a little fun.

  • JusticeOnTap

    "They are the most graceful, beautiful animals ever"

    Sure, until the thing bites your leg off....

  • Another commenter

    Because the Lowest Common Denominator always wins.

  • Brad Harvey

    You people need to hug some trees, everybody is an expert, they weren't chuming and not blood bait, how does she know she wasn't even on the beach.

  • Sunshine1229

    Here we go again! Why can't people just let the animals be? So stupid.

  • MandalayBay328

    I despise humans at times. All for a ridiculous selfie. Hope this animal's death was worth it - you tool bags.

  • j a

    I was in FL one time when an entire pod of manatees came in close to a beach at a resort. The idiots on the beach all went running down into the water. Those of us up on a deck were yelling at them to stay away to no avail. Some took selfies and touched the animals, before the fled in fear. Sick, stupid humans.