‘Squiggly shark’: Unusual-looking bull shark with ‘squiggly’ tail caught in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - A peculiar-looking bull shark with an abnormality was captured in Florida last month.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) called the unique creature a "squiggly shark" due to its tail appearing to take on a wavy form.

Photo courtesy of Brian TittlePhoto courtesy of Brian TittlePhoto courtesy of Brian TittlePhoto courtesy of the FWC

"The shark appears to have some form of scoliosis or spinal deformity affecting the vertebral column," the FWC said in a June 14 Facebook post. The agency also shared pictures and an x-ray image of a seatrout that had a similar strange shape to its vertebral column.

Brian Tittle, who lives across from NASA's launchpad in Titusville, Florida, was fishing with his son, Logan, in his backyard when he caught the shark around 3 p.m. on June 2.

"We fish in our backyard every chance we get. [It] just so happened that I gave all the guys an early day off to go fishing at my house," Tittle, who owns Tittle Home Solutions LLC, said. "My son and I made it home, got ready, got bait through the rods, out waiting for the guys to arrive and we ended up catching a shark before the crew got here."

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While the shark's condition is rare, the FWC said its team has encountered similar anomalies in other sharks and bony fish species.

According to Tittle, it's not unusual for him to catch sharks, so as soon as they had a bite, he knew he'd caught one "by the way it was pulling the line."

"We fought the shark for an hour, and while lassoing it and bringing it out of the water, we noticed his tail deformity. At first thought, I thought it was maybe a boat propeller injury or broken bone. I knew something was off with it, so I took pictures of him and sent them to a friend of mine at the FWC research department and he confirmed that it was scoliosis," Tittle said.

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Tittle said the squiggly shark was about 4 feet long or maybe a little bigger and weighed between 115-120 pounds.

"We were both really surprised by the way its tail was formed; however, we do not believe it affected its ability to swim due to it taking an hour to reel it in. We released the shark as quickly as possible after taking a few photos and [it] was unharmed and swam away under good health. We haven't caught him again yet, but we're still trying," he said.

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