By Mikey Jones
This poor lemon shark got herself hooked on metal – and it took an intervention from a brave diver to get her off it.
The poor female was spotted swimming off the coast of Florida with a huge fisherman’s hook digging into the side of her mouth.
Divers Cassie Jensen and Roger Haddix knew they had to remove it as it would take years to rust away.
Slowly gaining the trust of the injured shark, Roger was eventually able to move in and touch her nose to calm her, stimulating special sensory organs.
He was then able to draw the hook out from the side of her mouth before giving the camera a happy thumbs up.
The pictures were taken by Cassie, 28, from West Palm Beach in Florida.
The child protection investigator and equine groom said: “We often see sharks with hooks in their mouths as a lot of people fish in Florida. Unfortunately, a lot of people also fish for sharks as well.
“This hook was massive, and looked extremely painful. By the sheer size of it, it would have taken years, if not decades, to rust out of the shark’s mouth.
“The hook was obvious immediately, and the shark took a while to gain trust to come close to us. Sharks are not mindless killers, they are calculating, intelligent animals and it takes some time to gain their trust.
“This lemon shark made a few passes, and Roger reached out once to try and rub tiny sensory organs on the tips of her nose.
“They are electroreceptors and once stimulated, the shark will usually go into a sort of “tonic” state.
“Then I watched as she went directly towards him, and slowed down. It was the perfect moment, she trusted him. He quickly reached out, rubbed her snout, and reached for the hook with his gloved hand.
“It only took 5-10 seconds, and she was patient, but did move around and move her head from side to side. I heard a squeal of excitement from Roger Haddix, the diver and shark advocate who managed to remove the hook as he held it up out of pure joy.
“Usually I am against touching sharks, as I respect them as wild animals and observing them is more natural, but when the time comes to help a shark, I am all for it.
“My first thought when I saw the shark was how beautiful of an animal she is, and yet, because of humans, she is negatively altered by our hands and I wish we could help her.”
Cassie is concerned by the decline in shark population and the effect shark fishing is having on the oceans.
She states commercial, recreational and competition shark fishing, as well as illegal shark fishing and the use of their fins for the poisonous delicacy known as shark fin soup, is leading to their steep decline.
Cassie added catch and release does not work for sharks, as stress hormones build up in their bodies. Certain shark species, such as hammerheads, are especially at risk for this because their bodies cannot release these chemicals and they are toxic.
She said: “Sharks are essential to the planet. They are being decimated at such an alarming rate and we need as many shark advocates to help them as possible.
“Not many people realize what is occurring and that all shark species are at risk of extinction. And without sharks, the ocean will die. And without the ocean, the planet will die.”