Experienced boat captain rescues hooked soupfin shark in Dana Point

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A longtime fisherman and boat captain spoke to Eyewitness News on Monday about a 7-foot soupfin shark he snagged, helped and then released in Dana Point. (KABC)

A longtime fisherman and boat captain spoke to Eyewitness News on Monday about a 7-foot soupfin shark he snagged, helped and then released in Dana Point.

Over the last 28 years, Chris Pica has led countless fishing trips for people out of Dana Point, but this weekend was a rare encounter, even for the experienced captain.

While leading a private charter for a birthday party, one of the fishing lines on his boat started moving.

"The clicker went off and everybody got excited and we all ran out there, thinking it was a big white sea bass that we had on the line," Pica recalled.

But the animal was no sea bass. Pica hooked a 7-foot soupfin shark.

After struggling with the shark, Pica - a member of the NOAA whale disentanglement team - and his crew pulled the large shark onboard.

"We lifted the shark over and I started petting the belly of the shark and he calmed right down," Pica said.

He carefully unhooked the female shark and removed some fishing line, wrapped around it, before releasing it.

Pica's friends are starting to see him as a kind of shark savior because just three weeks earlier, he cut a great white shark loose of heavy-duty fishing line.

Dana Point whale rescuer recalls saving great white shark
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A trained whale rescuer on Friday shared his story of saving a great white shark caught up in fishing wire off the coast of Dana Point.


"I just never know what's going to get thrown my way once you get out here. Reality shows they don't hold a toothpick to Dana Wharf," he joked.

A marine biologist at Scripps Ocean Institute said Saturday's catch-and-release is great news. He said the once heavily-fished species is now making a comeback on the West Coast, where very little is known about them.

"As a fisherman, it's our job to be a conservationist and make sure that we do have a strong, sound ecosystem," said Pica.

Related Topics:
sharksanimal rescuefishingoceansrescueDana PointOrange County
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