Cape Town - Footage showing a local fisherman from Riversdale in the Western Cape carrying a Thresher shark through crashing waves is making headlines and has been watched over half-a-million times online.
The video shows fishing enthusiast Xander de Beer carrying a Thresher shark - characterised by their elongated tails, which can grow even longer than their own bodies - over rocks and through crashing waves to set the animal free into the ocean again.
You can see the original video here: Riversdale fisherman shows how catch-and-release is done - with a SHARK
De Beer told Traveller24 the video was all done in aid of promoting catch-and-release among fishermen.
"I am competing in a competition called Releasetober," he says. And the video of the catch-and-release was purposefully filmed to be entered into the national competition.
The initiative, started by the Rock and Surf Super Pro League (RASSPL), is the first South African competitive catch-and-release sport fishing series where anglers from all over the country take part.
It was with this competition in mind that De Beer says he decided to make a quick throw in Vleesbaai on his way to Mossel Bay.
"On my first cast, I hooked the Thresher!" he says.
"She gave a spectacular show as she jumped and thrashed her tail. My nerves were properly tested as I had light tackle on. With patience, I managed to land it on my own.
"Then I managed to put her in a pool to revive her and keep her calm. I called some builders close by to take a quick photo and a video as the comp requires a video and photo of the fish and release."
To release the animal back into the ocean, De Beer says he carried her for her own protection and took care not to drag her over the rocks and cause any harm to her.
"Some say she looks dead in the video... it's because you have to handle the shark when they are calm or you will hurt yourself or the shark when you try to handle them while they are thrashing," De Beer says.
"Fishing and the ocean is my passion. I actually left the corporate world about three months ago to build my work around fishing," he tells Traveller24.
De Beer says he is very familiar with sharks and catches a lot of them, some of which often weigh over 200kgs. The Thresher he released at Vleesbaai weighed but 44kg, and was approximately 126cm long.
All species of Thresher sharks were listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union in 2007 (IUCN). At the recent CITES Conference of Parties held in Johannesburg earlier this month, CITES members also voted to include the silky shark, three species of thresher sharks and nine species of devil rays in its "Appendix II" listing, which strictly controls trade so that species are not overharvested or threatened.
"Largely unregulated fishing is depleting devil ray populations and jeopardizes the significant potential of these animals for tourism," the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society said at the meeting.
You can read more about it here: #ShockWildlifeTruths: 6 Key CITES CoP17 decisions you need to know about
With the catch-and-release competition, local fishermen aim to highlight the beauty of these creatures without actually harming or killed them.
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