Nov. 17–A 28-year-old Jupiter man tangled with a shark on Sunday after it bit his hand and tried to tug him under the roiling seas off Singer Island.
But this fish story didn’t end with the 15 stitches sewn into Allen Engelman’s left hand.
Engelman, a commercial fisherman, returned to Singer Island’s Ocean Reef Park on Monday. He and friends reeled in a shark from crashing waves being ridden by a lone surfer.
Engelman said he will smoke and eat the shark, which he insisted Monday was the same one that latched onto his hand 30 seconds into a surf session the day before.
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“I was pulling my left hand out of the water and as it was coming out of the water, he jerked it back down,” Engelman said about the shark. “I could feel his nose against my skin.”
Engelman grabbed onto the shark’s pectoral fin.
“I’m wrestling him and he’s trying to pull me down,” he said.
The shark let go and Engelman was able to make it back to shore. He estimates the shark was about 150 pounds.
Fishing for shark from the beach is legal in Florida and it’s OK to kill spinner sharks as long as they are 54 inches long from nose to tail, said Lt. Tom Haworth, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are about 25 shark species, including the Atlantic angel and scalloped hammerhead shark, that cannot be harvested.
Palm Beach County rarely sees unprovoked shark bites like what Engelman described Sunday. According to the International Shark Attack File kept by the Florida Museum of Natural History, there have been no previous confirmed bites in Palm Beach County this year.
Since 1931, 67 shark bites, with no fatal encounters, have been recorded in Palm Beach County.
Billy DeMarino, a lifeguard with Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue who works on Singer Island, said he hasn’t noticed an increase of sharks off the coast.
“I swam on Saturday and it was a great swim,” DeMarino said.
But a combination of water being churned up by winds blowing with gusts up to 30 mph and bait fish around may have contributed to the bite.
“Certainly under high wind conditions when the water is all choppy, it makes it more difficult to see and you can have these cases of mistaken identity,” said Steve Kajiura, a shark expert with Florida Atlantic University.
Sharks are common along the east coast of Florida in the cooler months as they travel in conjunction with seasonal changes, but Kajiura said it’s too early for that kind of mass shark migration.
“They’ll start to come down soon, but the large numbers won’t be until January,” Kajiura said. “I’ll definitely buy (Engelman’s bite) was a black tip shark.”
Black tip sharks and spinner sharks are very similar.
Engelman agreed the shark that bit him just mistook him for bait fish that were in the water.
On Monday, he unwrapped the bandages from his injured hand, showing off the thick black stitching, and worried if he would be able to fish again soon.
He got the answer when his buddy hooked the shark and Engelman was able to help reel it partway in.
Some children on the beach screamed and one woman with two young kids asked Engelman to release the shark. But Engelman was set on making it a meal.
“Now that we got the shark that bit my hand, we’re going to fillet him and eat him,” Engelman said.
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