Commercial fisherman John “Willy” Dean was plying the Potomac near Chesapeake Bay with his son and crew on Aug. 20 when he caught not one, but two eight-foot long bull sharks–nearly three years after he landed the first bull shark caught in the Potomac River in 37 years.
An article from the Washington Post says Dean caught the first of two sharks last Tuesday in a net near Maryland’s Point Lookout State Park, though because sharks need a constant flow of water to breathe, it died before he and his crew pulled it aboard–but the men still erred on the side of caution.
“It was a good adrenaline rush, I would say,” Greg Dean said of the first shark. “It was a little scary, but then at the same time, it was very exciting. We really just don’t think at that point. We just keep pulling it in and try to see what it was.”
Coincidentally, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist was on board Dean’s boat for a routine check, and identified the bull shark, a species that can tolerate fresh water. After dropping the biologist and shark off on shore, Dean returned to the water to collect the daily catch, but noted fish acting strange and swimming closer to shore than usual. That’s when he and his crew saw a “big gray cloud” in the water, followed by a dorsal fin. They managed to net a second bull shark, alive.
“He can still snap his jaws, which he was still doing. We saw all those rows of teeth he had that were razor sharp,” Greg Dean said. “This is one of the most deadliest creatures on Earth, and we had him just a few inches away from us.” In fact, while the second shark was in the net, Dean said he watched it swallow a foot-long fish whole.
On shore, John Dean and his crew put both sharks in a walk-in storage and plan to donate them to science after carving out some steaks, but pointed out people in the area should remain cautious.
“I look at it like this. They’ve been out there for a very, very long time. And I guess a lot of them are figuring out when the water gets a little bit warmer, they can go a lot closer to the shore to get their food instead of being way out in the deep,” he said. “Everybody has their theories. That’s mine.”