Florida Keys anglers have heard their share of fish stories, but commercial shrimper Carl Moore's shark story is hard to beat.
Moore could win in two categories -- rarest and ugliest -- after catching the ugly and aptly named goblin shark in his shrimp net April 19.
Moore netted the 15-foot goblin shark while trawling for royal red shrimp south of the Marquesas Keys. The vessel was fishing in about 1,700 feet of water, he said.
Moore spotted the shark's distinctive head when the shrimp net spilled the shark and hundreds of pounds of red shrimp onto the deck of Moore's trawler.
"That was a prehistoric monster right there," said Moore, 63, of Townsend, Ga. "Man, what an ugly fish. ... He was pretty wicked. He grabbed a mouthful of everything on the deck."
Moore's crew tail-wrapped the beast and used a pulley system to lower it back into water alive.
"I wasn't sure if it was a protected species and I didn't want to get fined," Moore said. "Those types of fines can be expensive. That's my ocean and I try to protect it. He belonged out there."
Some scientists may have preferred Moore's crew kill the beast and give it to science for research purposes, but John Carlson, shark expert and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries Service research biologist, appreciates releasing the beast, he said.
Lucky for researchers, Moore purchased a smart phone with a camera just before the trip and was able to take photos of the shark, which he later sent to Carlson and other NOAA scientists.
"We appreciate the photos," Carlson said. "We understand releasing it."
Moore has been a commercial fishing captain for 50 years and has fished some of the deepest waters between the Florida Keys and the coast of Alabama.
"I have been fishing a long time and have never seen anything like that," Moore said. "I tell my neighbors in Georgia that it is like planting a rosebush in your backyard and digging up a dinosaur bone."
Goblin shark encounters are rare in United States waters, Carlson said. The last reported case of a fisherman catching one occurred in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana in 2000, Carlson said. Nearly 80 percent of goblin shark encounters occur off Japan, Carlson said.
"Little is known about goblin sharks and their life history," Carlson added.