A video showing a Lewes man wrangling an 8-foot sand tiger shark in the surf at Cape Henlopen State Park’s drive-on beach has generated thousands of views on social media.
Bear resident Rachael Foster captured the video as she was enjoying a sunny Father’s Day at Herring Point in Lewes. After a fisherman a few cars away from the Foster family hooked the shark, Dave Williamson jumped into the water to release the creature, which is required by Delaware law. There were two Delaware State Parks rangers on shore watching him release the shark, he said.
“Everything was done by the books,” said Williamson, who caught two sharks June 21.
For the safety of the animal, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says any prohibited shark should not be pulled from the water and should be released as soon as it is identified. It is not required that a fisherman remove the hook from the shark, but Williamson said he tries to if it can be done safely.
DNREC has issued fines to people who have removed sharks from the water and posted photos on social media.
Williamson, a 2001 Cape Henlopen High School graduate, fishes for sharks frequently from the end of May until early August. He said he usually paddles offshore 350 to 500 yards before dropping bait into the ocean. He has a friend manning a fishing rig on the beach in case something takes the bait before he returns.
“You’re in much deeper water out there where the sharks like to hang out and feed,” he said.
He said he’s caught fish as large as 11 feet, but most are about 6 feet.
Many commenters on social media have criticized Williamson’s handling of the shark, but he reiterated that what he was doing was safe for the shark.
“I’ve never seen anybody else get in the water with them,” he said. “You’re not required to do that. I always try to remove the hook if it’s safe and in a way that does not harm the shark. Some people will just cut the leader right off at the beach and let the shark go on its own. I like to try to get the hook out of its mouth and then pull the shark out to where he’s in a little deeper water and give them a push.”
Foster says she has been driving on at Cape Henlopen two to three times a week since 2015 and has never seen anything like she did on Father’s Day.
“It was a pretty big shark,” she said.
She said the shark was swimming in the shallows before Williamson was able to hook it. After the shark was discovered, she said, people were screaming at others to get out of the water.
Foster’s video has gained nearly 200,000 views on Facebook and close to 200,000 views on TikTok. Foster has also received requests from media outlets to share the video from as far Australia. In the U.S., the story was picked up by TMZ.