Tazz Felde, a scuba instructor for Under Pressure Divers, came face to face with the struggling nurse shark off John Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island at Fort Walton Beach.
“It was between 6 and 7 feet,” he told FOX Weather. “It was a pretty big shark.”
Video shows the shark writhing with a large metal hook in its mouth as it tries to get away. Felde can be seen gingerly trying to pull the hook from its jaws, but the distressed fish doesn’t want to cooperate.
Felde then puts his hand on top of the shark’s head to hold it down as he tries to cut the line with pliers, the footage shows.
The shark can be seen rolling over and nudging Felde.
Suddenly, with a thrash of its tail right in the camera, the freed shark darts off into the blue — with Felde’s pliers in tow.
Felde said another diver reported the shark to his wife, who works at a local snorkel shop. He said the diver and his son made several unsuccessful attempts to free it from the structure.
He and a friend made the quick hundred-yard outswim to the location last month to see if they could help, he told Fox Weather.
“The area that they described where the shark was, it was there,” he added. “There were a lot of monofilaments strung all over the reef. The shark was right on the bottom, and you can see it can only move its head just a little.”
Once there, Felde was able to cut the 120-pound test line’s steel leader attached to the hook in the shark’s mouth.
While typically harmless to humans, nurse sharks have strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny, serrated teeth they use to crush prey found on the ocean floor, according to National Geographic. While they’re not known to attack swimmers, they will bite defensively if threatened.
The sharks can grow up to 14 feet in length, with their large, distinctive tails accounting for up to 14 of their body length. They’re found in the warm, shallow waters of the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans.