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Huge shark stuns Florida swimmers

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A huge hammerhead shark has washed up on the sands of Pompano Beach in Florida.

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The Dead Sea creature, reports the New York Post, was 11 feet long and weighed 500 pounds.

Experts have established that the hammerhead shark was a pregnant female. She was stranded in what the American Shark Conservancy calls “a fairly rare occurrence.”

Hannah Medd, founder of the American Shark Conservancy, told CNN: “We get a call for maybe one to four a year who have washed up.”

The Conservancy is authorized to take samples of protected species such as the hammerhead shark. They learned about the hammerhead shark from the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which studies turtle nests on beaches.

A member of the team had found the body with a hook in the mouth. The specific type of hook “usually indicates someone was fishing for a large animal like a hammerhead shark,” Medd said.

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The problem is that catch-and-release fishing is always deadly for species such as hammerhead sharks, due to the stress involved.

Catch and release is legal in Florida, but being legal doesn’t mean it’s good. The injury to the hook and the accompanying stress of fighting for its life is sometimes enough to kill the fish, let it be set free.

Medd said sport anglers are encouraged to use stronger gear because it reduces the “fight time” for the shark – and reduces the risk of injury or death.

It took a construction vehicle to hoist the shark, and a construction crew eventually dug a hole on the beach to bury the animal.

Many spectators were moved and some cried at the sight of the dead shark.

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“You never want to see an animal that big lying on the beach,” said Pompano Beach resident Kevin Nosal.

“It’s 11 feet long and over 500 pounds. She’s a female, so it’s always sad when a female dies.

Great hammerhead sharks are an endangered species but are common in coastal Florida waters. They can grow up to 18 feet long and live for up to 20 years.