FREEPORT, Texas -- It’s the catch of a lifetime, but it’s not clear whether a Texas fisherman landed an 8-foot shark or it landed him.
Jason Kresse, 29, of Freeport, and two crew members had been fishing for red snapper about 50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and were dumping fish guts into the water about 3:45 a.m. Monday when they heard two big splashes in the distance.
"All of a sudden something hit the side of the boat," Kresse told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "He ends up landing on the back of the boat."
The mako shark had apparently been in a rush to feed. It began thrashing around, and Kresse said he and his crew couldn’t get close to the 375-pound fish to toss it back in the water. It damaged the boat before dying several hours later.
See shark photos here
Kresse, who has been fishing since he was a child, said the unplanned catch was a shock. Just unloading it was a challenge because it was so heavy.
"We had to use a forklift to get it off the boat when we got to the dock," Kresse said.
The crew didn’t have a permit to catch sharks, so Kresse contacted federal fisheries officials on shore to get one. Mike Cox, a spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said there’s no violation because the shark’s death was an accident.
The shark is on display at Captain Mark's Seafood Market in Freeport, about 55 miles south of Houston.
"I’m going to get a mount of it," Kresse said. "A fish jumping in your boat, 400 pounds, that’s unbelievable."
Folks streamed in all day to see the monster fish for themselves. Visitors included seasoned fishermen, a paramedic and a Texas Game Warden who joked, “Anything can happen in the sea.”
Captain Mark's owns the boat that brought in the mako.
“You got a 350-pound fish airborne, coming towards you. It can kill you. It can really kill you. Plus its mouth, you see the teeth, you can lose a hand, a leg quickly, very quickly.” That's not a scene from the movie “Jaws,” said Frixos Chrisinis, who works at Captain Mark's.
The mako is the only species of shark that will continue to bite and attack, even when out of the water, said Texas A & M Galveston Marine Biology Professor Jaime Alvarado.
“The mako is capable of jumping 30 feet into the air and is very aggressive,” he said.
The shark will be on display for another day or two. It won't be sold, but cut up for a super seafood dinner to give to friends.