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Why fishermen's massive sawfish catch and release was different

Anglers in Naples, Fla., caught more than they expected when an endangered sawfish became hooked on their line. Watch, as the fishermen struggle to free the creature.

Fisherman who accidentally hooked a massive sawfish off the Naples Pier in Florida found a way to get it to shore and safely release the thrashing animal.

The video captured by Naples local Alex Pino last week shows fisherman, who were unable lift it up to the pier, guide it onto the beach where a number of people were able to unhook and release of the endangered smalltooth sawfish.

"That's when we all got to see how huge this sawfish is! I've never seen anything like it in person," Mr. Pino told the Naples Daily News.

The humaneness of the interaction contrasted with other incidents earlier this year involving beachgoers and marine wildlife.

A Florida man sparked outrage across social media after a video posted to Facebook showed him posing for photos with the shark pinned to the sand after having dragged it from the water in Palm Beach. The shark was eventually returned to the water, but some animals are not so fortunate.

Around the same time in Argentina, a man took a young and rare Franciscana dolphin from the water as he led a large group to take selfies with the creature before leaving it motionless on the sand.

Around the world, public officials are starting to take the selfie craze more seriously warning people in pamphlets and posters about the danger of taking pictures with wild animals in order to prevent unnecessary and tragic deaths, both of wild animals and of people, the Monitor reported at the time.

People at the Naples pier also took pictures and video with their phones, but cheered as the sawfish swam back out into the gulf.

The United States is home to two breeds of sawfish – small and large-toothed – and both are native to the Gulf of Mexico. The smalltooth swordfish, like the one seen in the video, grow to an average of 18 feet in length but can grow as large as 25 feet, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

The sawfish uses its saw, known scientifically as a rostrum, to dig in the sand and slice its crustacean prey. Sawfish are able to replace their teeth if they are worn down or lost, a phenomenon called polyphyodonty.

Smalltooth sawfish are endangered due to overharvesting and entanglement in fishing equipment.

Despite resembling and being closely related to a sharks, the sawfish is actually a type of ray and poses no threat to humans if left alone, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

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