It’s not only the wave that makes Teahupoo one of surfing’s most daunting places. While the lip may clamp you down and the super-shallow reef may chew you up, don’t forget that on the deeper side of the reef lies raw ocean, complete with all its toothy hazards, as Teahupoo locals were reminded this week.
According to a report in Tahiti Presse: “Thursday was supposed to have been a routine day of fishing for starfish for the two Parker brothers off Teahupoo … Their day began as part of a campaign to collect as many starfish as possible to help protect the coral reef because these creatures, known in Tahitian as ‘Taramea’, love to eat coral polyps.
On this particular day, Didier and Gérard were joined by Mannix, the president of the Teahupoo Fishermen’s Cooperative, as they dove underwater near the coral reef to inspect their catch of starfish.
Earlier they had thrown a fish net with some attached empty fish hooks into the water, hoping to catch something else to take back home that night. Little did they realize what they would end up with.
As Didier began pulling up the fish net, the weight made him think, “It’s a swordfish.” But two meters from the surface, the swordfish became a shark, but not just any shark. It was a tiger shark. They didn’t have to battle the shark because it had become trapped in the fish net and had drowned.
In the shark family, the tiger shark is the second largest predatory shark after the great white shark. A mature tiger shark averages 3.25-4.25 meters (11-14 feet) in length and weighs 385-909 kilograms (850-2,000 pounds).
The Parkers had caught themselves a very mature tiger shark. After taking 2.5 hours to bring the shark up, they could only estimate its weight—maybe a good 500 kilos. That was a bit off. When they found the proper scales Friday, they discovered the shark weighed in at 1.29 tons. It measured four meters in length.