Sarasota, Florida -- Three fathers and their 12-year-old sons visiting Sarasota from Northeast Ohio went fishing and returned to shore with a story about "the one that didn't get away."
"We knew we were going to catch something big," recalls Sam Van Duhn. But just how big, Sam says, they never imagined.
On Wednesday, Sam and his two friends, Ryan Roberts and Tony Musca, and their dads took a fishing trip off of Longboat Pass on the Double Nickel Charters boat out of Marina Jack. The boys are students at St. Raphael's in Bay Village, Ohio.
Sam's father Mark Van Duhn says the boys wanted to monitor the shark rod over the Amberjack rod.
Around 11:30 in the morning, 20 miles off Longboat Pass in waters 100 feet deep, something bit their 15-pound bait on their shark rig.
"Everyone was yelling and screaming, 'Yay! We got a shark!' "recalls Sam.
Mark says for him and the other two fathers it was a proud moment watching their sons.
"There was a battle of wills between shark and 12-year-old young men. They did their best side-by-side. We have beautiful photos showing all of them manning the rod really putting up a fight. They were not going to give in."
Boys win, and the shark—a female weighing 692 pounds—is towed back to shore.
"We did it ourselves," says Sam.
The 692-pound Mako Shark is a big catch for Mote Marine researchers too. They will study the skin and fin samples to better understand what makes this the fastest swimming shark.
"They can get up to 30 miles per hour cruising speed," says Dr. Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratories.
Hueter says the study's findings may help make underwater crafts, even airplanes faster.
"Their skin scales are adapted to lift when they have turbulence coming down on the body. It stops the turbulence flow from developing makes them glide through water it's an amazing engineering feat."
As for finding these large predators in the Gulf, Hueter says it's not unusual. The boys' shark is the third shark brought in by Double Nickel Charter this year.
"Beach goers should not be concerned at all. We're talking about an animal that is an oceanic species, not a coastal species," says Hueter.
The higher sightings of Mako sharks, Hueter says, is a good sign for the shark population.
"This, in part, is good news for sharks. Some of these shark species are coming back. There are larger ones seen off shore. It's not a problem along the beach. It's a sign some of our fishery management is working, bringing back shark populations that have been depleted by 75% in the last 25 years."
This catch is a win for science, and this father and son.
"We knew we'd have a good experience. We never knew it would this good."
Mark says he and his son will continue fishing.
"The next catch is the next story."
But Sam's story will always begin like this:
"I caught a 700-pound Mako Shark."