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Evidence of possible shark abuse caught on video

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By PAUL MUELLER, WPEC

SINGER ISLAND, Fla. (WPEC) - Some call it disturbing, disgusting, and even despicable. Three fishermen on Singer Island make a big catch that may not have been legal.

The reason? They caught a Great Hammerhead shark which is on the endangered list.

A woman who works for "National Geographic" caught the incident on video.

She’s a diver of more than two decades and someone who has worked for the last two and half years with Hammerhead sharks and couldn’t even believe what she was seeing.

As she looked off the side of her boat, she saw the shark on the beach with a group of people surrounding it.

Three fishermen reportedly caught the shark but since it’s on the endangered species list, there’s only one thing they were allowed to do – cut the line.

On her video showing the scene, Leigh Cobb can be heard shouting, “They can’t get the hook out,” as a man on the boat agreed. “Look. Get him in the water.”

The chaotic scene played out Thursday morning.

Judging by the size of the hook, the line, and the reel, Cobb believes there’s no question what the men were doing.

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“It's beyond me,” she told WPEC. “The devastation I felt? I couldn't breathe. I literally could not breathe.”

She told us she knew the line that they had on that shark was purposely to fish for shark.

The 13-foot-shark can grow up to about 20 feet. It’s their facial features that distinguish them from other sharks.

“I'm completely outraged at that these people could kill beautiful creatures that's responsible for maintaining the health of our oceans,” said shark expert and conservationist Jim Abernethy.

Abernethy has taken pictures of 20 Hammerheads dead on the beach in the last 5 years.

“They catch one,” Abernethe said. “They pull it up on the beach. They take a lot of pictures with it and they put it back in the water and it swims off for a moment but it doesn't have enough energy to make it and it washes back up on the shore dead.”

“Cone on sweetheart,” Cobb could be heard saying on the video as the Hammerhead was in the water trying to make it out into the Atlantic. “Please swim.”

There’s no word on the fate of the shark. If it is dead, those fishermen could face federal charges since it’s on the endangered species list.

As for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, they weren’t immediately aware of the case but said they’d look into it.

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