Greg Dean was away in college at Salisbury University when his father, Willy Dean, caught a bull shark in 2010. Greg shared the experience, but only vicariously.
The younger Dean, who returned to the family's Southern Maryland home in Scotland after graduating this year and joined the family's commercial fishing business, got the same experience firsthand last week.
Fishing off Point Lookout State Park early Tuesday, the Deans and friend Rich Riche pulled in two bull sharks that had become entangled in the 20-foot nets they use mostly to catch menhaden.
The first shark, which measured 8feet, 3 inches and weighed 220pounds, “was already drowned,” Greg Dean said. The second one, which measured 8 feet and also weighed more than 200 pounds, quickly followed.
“We had our suspicions when we were pulling in the first one because we saw a lot of splashing around. As we were pulling the first one in, we saw what we thought was a dorsal fin and a big gray shadow,” Greg Dean said. “That's when we saw it go into the net.”
The second shark was still alive when the Deans brought it aboard.
“We went ahead and dissected him to see what they were eating,” Greg Dean said. “There was fish in them. One of the rockfish was actually biting as we pulled it into the boat. Most of the baitfish we're used to catching are around 1 foot; these are a little bigger.”
The Deans are not sure what they are going to do with the sharks. They could sell them, but Greg Dean believes they will donate the fish for scientific research.
“We're still waiting to hear back from a few people to see where it will go,” he said. “I very much doubt they will be sold because a lot of biologists have stressed that they want to look at them.”
The most alarming thing about the experience was where they were caught. It was reported initially that the Deans caught the fish 200 yards away from the outside perimeter of the swimming area at Point Lookout, “but it was actually shorter than that,” Dean said.
Bull sharks are aggressive hunters and are among the most dangerous sharks to humans.
Greg Dean said the swimming area was empty that day, “but there are usually hundreds of people out there [on the weekend].”