Neither shark nor human was injured in the making of this video, said Kitsap County 19-year-old Alex Winn.
A Kitsap County man dove off a dock in Liberty Bay Wednesday evening, headfirst into a school of spiny dogfish sharks. When he emerged, he was clutching a flailing dogfish pup.
That’s right, the 19-year-old caught a shark with his bare hands. And it was all caught on video.
Alex Winn, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said on Thursday — after the footage went viral — he saw his efforts as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because he’d never seen a dogfish up close.
So, while hanging out with friends from high school on the dock, he went in after it. A few seconds under the water, and he emerged the victor.
“Crikey, mate, I just caught this little bugger,” he said, posing with his catch, and apparently giving his best Steve Irwin impression.
The one-minute video of the encounter almost didn’t happen at all. His friend who was recording the action only had 1 percent of his phone’s battery left.
And that’s why, Winn said, the video ended before it showed him throwing the shark back into the water. He said he saw the shark swim away unharmed.
Nonetheless, wild animals are dangerous, and “manhandling” them is a bad idea, said fish expert and researcher Dayv Lowry, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It was a silly thing to do,” Lowry said after being told of Winn’s adventure.
Lowry said the spiny dogfish is known to live along the Pacific coast, and was recently listed as an endangered species.
He said it’s not uncommon for people to encounter them in shallow waters, but unless you’re a fishermen, you’re unlikely to ever handle one. Lowry said he’s not surprised that neither fish nor Winn was harmed: Dogfish like to eat squid and herring, not humans.
“Overall, I just wanted to let people know I wasn’t trying to hurt the fish at all,” Winn said. “He was back in the water really, really soon.”
Winn posted the video to his own Instagram account and submitted it to Total Frat Move, an Instagram account with 1.3 million followers. It was shared there on Wednesday night with the caption, “This dude really just caught a shark with his bare hands.” The video has racked up more than half a million views.
Strangers are commenting, sharing and tagging their friends to watch. Some even called Winn a “hero.”
The attention, Winn said, was very unexpected.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this, honestly, I was kind of nervous when I woke up,” he said.