Florida Charter Captain Pulls Trolling Motor Out of Shark’s Mouth
OutdoorHub Reporters 01.28.15
Captain Scott Fitzgerald of Madfish Charters almost lost a brand-new trolling motor eight miles off the Florida coast when a great white shark apparently mistook it for a chewing toy. Last week Fitzgerald uploaded images of the battered and scratched motor to Facebook and recalled being circled by the shark.
“He had the entire trolling motor in his mouth, and was moving it side to side, and it was shaking the boat,” Fitzgerald told mypanhandle.com, “I’ve been chartering for nine years, and I’ve never seen a shark try to attack my boat. It was very exciting for all of us. It really got our hearts beating hard.”
According to Fitzgerald, the great white attacked the motor a total of three times before the anglers called it a day and left the area. Every time, the captain would reach over and pull the motor from the fish’s mouth, but once he set it back in the water, the shark went after it again.
“He knocked the boat two feet to the side, then grabbed the trolling motor and started shaking it in his mouth,” Fitzgerald told the Pensacola News Journal. “That’s when I ran up front and pulled it out of his mouth.”
But why was the shark—which the anglers estimated to be 10 feet long—so intent on eating Fitzgerald’s motor? According to some experts, the shark may have mistaken the device for prey because it was sending out electrical pulses that sharks usually associate with fish.
These electrical pulses are generated by muscle contractions in fish, and as minute as they are, they can be detected by sharks due to special sensory organs called the “Ampullae of Lorenzini” in their snouts. This may explain why the great white continued to take bites at Fitzgerald’s motor even after he removed it from the water. A similar incident occurred in 2013 when three anglers fishing for tuna off the Australian coast found themselves under attack from another great white. In that case, the shark was undeterred even after one of the anglers smacked it on the nose.
As for Fitzgerald, the charter captain now has his own story of a fish that didn’t want to get away.
You can see videos of the shark circling Fitzgerald’s 22-foot boat below: