An eight-foot bull shark was caught this week in the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, Md.
Although it isn’t totally uncommon to occasionally see a bull shark in the river, state wildlife authorities said it was a large haul.
The shark was caught by Murphy Brown’s family, of Coltons Point, Md. The 21-year-old, who works by day as a receptionist at a defense contracting firm, recounted on Friday the shark’s capture.
She said her grandfather — Robert T. Brown — is a commercial fisherman who has been in business in that area for decades. Her grandfather and dad, Robbie Brown, along with some other people, were out checking their nets Wednesday evening and discovered the caught shark. But the tide was too high and the waters too rough to get it out, she said, so her grandfather and dad went back the next day, but the shark was dead by then.
“I think they were pretty shocked” to see the bull shark in the net, she said of her dad and grandfather.
“My dad said in his whole life — and he’s been fishing since he could walk — he’s never seen anything that big before,” she said. “It was mind-blowing to be there and see it.
“You hear about other people making a big catch or you see it and you think, ‘wow,’ but then it happens to you,” she said. “It was pretty crazy.”
Their large bull shark catch was first reported by the Southern Maryland News Net.
Although bull sharks are relatively rare, seeing one in the Potomac River — particularly in the lower portion, where the river meets Chesapeake Bay — is not unheard of, according to experts from the fishery services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The agency said it gets a report about once a year of someone spotting a bull shark, usually between late July and September, when salinity levels are high. Sharks, typically, need higher levels of salinity than found in the Potomac, but bull sharks can handle the lower levels, experts said.
“It’s a seasonal occurrence,” said Paul Genovese, a program manager at the fishery services, of seeing bull sharks in the Potomac River.
He said sharks sometimes get caught in the larger, commercial-sized fishing nets.
“They follow the prey into the bay,” he said. “And they’ll follow the fish right into the nets.”