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Video: Did Anglers Just Catch a Great White Shark In Alabama?

A recent video shows what looks like a great white shark caught off the Alabama coast. If confirmed, it will be the first great white ever caught in the state.

The catch came as a total surprise to anglers Dylan Wier and Blaine Kenny. Both are shark fishing guides and were familiar with the waters around Orange Beach. But never before had they hooked a great white in the area.

It was Sunday evening, and Kenny was casting from the shore while Wier patrolled the water in a kayak, reports MSN. Suddenly, Kenny felt a massive tug on the line, and he knew he’d snagged something big.

Wier hurried to help, as did four other bystanders. All in all, it took six people pulling with all their might to drag the fish into shallow water. It wasn’t until then that Kenny and Wier got a good look at their quarry—and realized it was likely a great white. The shark was about 10 feet in length and weighed between 800 and 1,000 pounds, KTAB News reports.

Throughout the U.S., great white sharks are a “prohibited species,” which means anglers are never allowed to keep the animals, kill them, or even drag them to shore. Even if a shark were to jump into your boat, you’d be responsible for handling it gently and pushing it out to sea. Both professional guides, Kenny and Wier were familiar with this rule. So, they quickly released the shark and let it swim away.

The only downside to their noble actions is that scientists won’t be able to officially verify the shark’s species. Analysis of the video, however, reveals the characteristic dorsal fin notch and torpedo-shaped head that great whites are known for.

While not endangered, great white sharks are currently listed as “vulnerable,” according to the World Wildlife Fund. Like many rare sharks, their populations have been declining over the past few decades due to habitat loss, hunting, and illegal shark-finning. Great whites have also suffered from indiscriminate killings after the movie Jaws. In recent years, populations have begun to rebound, but they’re not in the clear yet.

If this is truly the first great white to be caught in Alabama, that could be a sign that the sharks are recovering and expanding their range into new waters. While perhaps not great news for paranoid Alabama swimmers, it’s certainly good news for the shark.

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