Last weekend Bob Cloutier and his nephew Zach Cloutier, both of Newburyport, caught a massive thresher shark just shy of the Massachusetts state record. Bob Cloutier manages a local charter service along with his brother Ed, and was 60 miles out from shore along with his crew when they hooked the shark. According to the Eagle-Tribune, it was his nephew who made the catch, with Cloutier’s assistance as well as the help of Jared Copley and Mike Bromaghim.
“We saw it jump a few times. It gave a heck of a show,” said Bob Cloutier.
His nephew spent the next two-and-a-half hours attempting to bring the shark to the boat, before the crew discovered that they had limited options in getting the fish on board. At first the anglers considered towing the shark back to harbor, but decided against it as this method would damage the fish and be overly time-consuming. Instead they radioed for the assistance of another fisherman, who brought block and tackle gear to haul the shark onto the ship.
“Even with that [block and tackle gear], it was tough getting it over the side of the boat,” said Cloutier. “I wasn’t prepared for how big it was, it was almost problematic.”
The anglers brought the shark back to port, where Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg took a photo of the men with their trophy-sized catch. Unfortunately, the fish could not be weighed immediately and had to be brought to a certified scale the next day, where it came in at 609 pounds. This short delay could have cost the anglers a state record. The current Massachusetts record for thresher shark stands at 630 pounds. Hogg told the Eagle-Tribune that the shark might have lost weight as it dried while waiting for a scale.
Thresher sharks have been known to reach a weight of over 1,100 pounds. These sharks hunt schooling fish by moving the water with their strangely shaped tails, herding the fish into range of either their jaws or a slap from their tail. A recent study found that thresher sharks can generate shock waves as fast as 47 miles per hour, killing smaller fish instantly.
Image courtesy Newburyport Harbormaster's Office