(COLUMBIA CITY) - Four months after he caught an endangered shark, Jeff Melvin has a replica of the rare find.
WANE reports, the shark was a largetooth sawfish that measured over 15 feet long.
Melvin, who has fished for 45 years, caught the rare find during an April trip to Florida. "I wanted to catch a bull shark," he said Saturday. Instead, he found one of the largest sharks ever.
Melvin made the catch while fishing at Fort Myers Beach.
"That guy caught the biggest shark I've ever seen," Ron Zul, the owner of E-Z Charters & Seafood, Inc., said. Zul's company provided the charter boat that Melvin used to catch the largetooth sawfish shark. "It's awesome. That's a big accomplishment."
Melvin and the captain of the boat were the only two men abroad when the shark was caught.
"When the shark's [saw] started to come out of the water that's when the captain's voice started to get squeaky and his body was shaking," Melvin said. "[The captain] knew what we had. He said, it's an endangered species. You got to take pictures. You have to let him go and we have to report it."
Melvin was able to snap a few photos as the shark swam away. He said he has been working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to document the catch.
With the information documented, and photos, Melvin was able to get a Florida-based taxidermy, Gray's Taxidermy, to build an authentic replica of his greatest catch.
"Oh man, he's just like he was the day I caught him," he said moments after opening the large box used to ship the replica.
According to Melvin and Zul, the shark weighed an estimated 900 pounds. It also had more than 50 pairs of teeth along its rostrum, which is its saw-like beak. The rostrum measured out to be more than five feet in length.
Several of Melvin's friends and family were outside his Columbia City home Saturday morning to unveil the shark, and take photos.
"Definitely the catch of my life," Melvin said.
According to Melvin, his catch was the third largetooth sawfish shark sighting in that area in 20 years.
Now that Melvin has the replica, he said he has been talking to local sporting good stores and restaurants about displaying the shark. He added he hopes to eventually sell it.
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