Me and sharks have an interesting history-especially the bull shark.
I have this uncanny ability to find myself in interesting situations in the wild, especially when it comes to the apex predator of the ocean.
While fishing in the Chandeleur Island with television host Keith Warren in the early 2000s, I caught a five foot long blacktip just off the drop-off of an island we had been wade-fishing a few hours earlier.
Keith thought it would be best if we photographed the fish from the shore, so I hopped overboard waded to the bank with the fish still battling and brought it to shore.
We filmed the whole thing and then talked a bit about bull sharks and shark conservation.
“Sharks like the bull shark are potentially dangerous to man, but they play a valuable role in nature,” I said.
“Sharks are the apex predator in the Gulf of Mexico, and without them, the entire food chain would be disrupted. I occasionally take sharks to eat, but bulls have super thick hide and I think I will release this one to fight another day.”
At this point, Keith and I walked the big shark back out into the water and he demonstrated the proper technique for reviving a fish by pushing water through its gills. The fish seemed worn out but quickly gained its strength. Keith pushed it out toward the deep, and on camera, we said something about a job well done and started to walk back to shore.
Then something caught my eye: The shark we had released had swam out about 20 yards and then turned around toward us. We were in water over our knees a good 30 yards from the bank. There was no way we were going to outrun the shark, so I prepared to kick it the best I could.
As it got about 10 feet from us, it turned sideways for a second as if it shows its authority, and then turned the other direction. We both breathed a sigh of relief and were glad the camera was still running, because we did not think anyone would believe us. We said something about a close call and wrapped up the shoot.
If you think that was a bit ironic, then check out what happened while tagging sharks near Sabine Pass.
Once again, I was out with Bill Killian but this time my friend, the late Clint Starling, was with us and he wanted to catch a shark. We set up near a rig 10 miles south of the jetties and started catching sharks immediately. A few were blacktips and spinners but most were Atlantic sharpnose, sharks, a species often called “sand shark” that grows to a maximum of around four feet in length.
A huge crew boat that services the oil rigs has the entire Gulf to go around but runs full blast about 50 yards out and throws a massive wave. Our boat near capsized and everything in it went flying including the three-foot Atlantic sharpnose I was in the process of tagging.
When we landed back into position the shark fell on my leg and took hold of my calf. A shark does this thing where it grabs with a bite and then takes a hunk. Luckily before it took, a hunk I knocked it back and looked down to see lots of blood.
Bill and Clint were freaking out but I assured them it would be alright. I asked Bill if he had any alcohol or peroxide and he did not. I looked down and saw a can of Dr. Pepper so I poured that on the wound, figuring it couldn’t hurt, pulled the bandana off my head and contained the bleeding. Bill was wanting to run it but the fish were still biting. We stayed another couple of hours and caught a whole bunch of sharks.
The shark left me a perfect shark jaw scar and a reminder that sometimes even the creatures you are trying to help are wild and free to prey on us if they so choose. I never got stitches and to this day (this was 1999) have an obvious scar.
Its kind of ironic the guy who was trying to save sharks, gets bit.
How’s that for gratitude?
Chester Moore, Jr.