An angler has told how he fought an epic 40-minute battle to land a monster catch — a whopping nine-foot shark.
The hulking 250-pound beast, believed to be a porbeagle shark, was reeled in by Steve Watson and his two friends on a fishing trip off the coast of Whitby, in Yorkshire, England.
Porbeagles are a cousin of the great white, and are one of the most common types of shark spotted in U.K. waters.
Steve, along with Andy Watson and Matt Ward, have been shark fishing for around three years, largely off the coast of Cornwall. But this year, they decided to invest in a boat to search the North Sea, where the water is slightly colder and the sharks feel more at home.
The group came across the mammoth shark 15 miles out, and couldn't believe their luck.
Reeling the shark, however, was no easy task, as the anglers were locked in a tense contest described by Steve as "very difficult" before releasing it back into the wild.
"It was incredible. They come up to the surface and swim round the boat, it's amazing to watch," said Steve, who also shared how he wrangled the porbeagle.
"They are very delicate when they take the bait, but after about 30 seconds we decided to tighten the line. It took about 40 minutes to land.
"They look very, very much like a great white, the only way to tell the difference is by their fins — they are very, very similar," he added. (Despite their scary appearance, porbeagle sharks are not thought to be harmful to humans. Usually found at least 10 miles out, they're known as shy creatures with no reported cases of one fatally wounding a person.)
Steve and his friends reportedly used "special hooks" imported from the USA which allowed them to easily release their catch after the tense battle, enabling it to swim safely back into the sea.
The group has previously caught sharks believed to be around 500 pounds, and they estimate this shark to be around half that, at 250 pounds.
The trio, from Wakefield and Dewsbury, have bought a boat called Isobel which is currently based in Whitby harbor — which is good news, because they plan to spend the summer exploring the North Sea for any more sightings of sharks.
"Talking to local charter boat skippers, we think this could be the first shark caught off Whitby this year," Steve said.
The catch follows a story in June last year when another group caught a porbeagle off the coast of Whitby.
Rich Cope, 38, who runs a Whitby-based boat charter company called Mistress Sea Angling, said of last year's catch, "It was like trying to control a car on a fishing rod."
Cope was about 20 miles off the Whitby coast, he says, and had only been fishing for about 15 minutes when he got the bite.
"We knew it was a shark, it was very exciting. I don't suppose many people have a job like mine, I love fishing and get a lot of excitement."