The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man believed to have illegally caught and gaffed a juvenile great white shark last month on the Pismo Beach Pier.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Todd Tognazzini said according to reports, a man believed to be a local resident caught the young white shark off the pier about 6 p.m. on June 22 and posed for pictures with it while a large crowd gathered.
You are not supposed to pose with the animals.
Todd Tognazzini, Fish and Wildlife spokesman
“It appears, according to preliminary information, that the animal was not immediately released,” Tognazzini said, adding that the man appears to have had the shark out of the water for an extended amount of time while posing for cellphone pictures. “You are not supposed to pose with the animals.”
Great white sharks have been a protected species since 1994 and can only be captured for scientific purposes, Tognazzini said. Hooking a great white on accident is not illegal, but any angler who catches a great white is required to immediately release it back into the water unharmed. Failing to do so can result in a citation, complaint or a misdemeanor charge carrying a maximum fine of $1,000 or up to six months in County Jail.
Tognazzini said his office has received two “solid” tips and are looking into the information provided as of Monday afternoon. He still asks that witnesses on the pier that evening come forward to provide more information.
“We are just trying to further our investigation and find out if the preliminary information is true,” Tognazzini said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Fish and Wildlife tip hotline at 1-888-334-CALTIP (2258). Tips could result in a reward.
Over the weekend, Tognazzini said another juvenile great white was caught at the pier. The shark was about 4 1/2 feet long and was caught at around midday Saturday.
The shark had already been released by the time Fish and Wildlife authorities arrived, but they were able to review video to ensure it was handled properly.
The incidents with the juvenile sharks occurred amid of a flurry of recent sightings in the waters from Cayucos to Pismo Beach, including reports and videos of larger great whites swimming beside the Pismo pier.
Danielle Ames contributed to this report.