Giant dogtooth tuna becomes shark bait

Giant dogtooth tuna becomes shark bait
It’s clear by the size of the head that this was one enormous dogtooth tuna; photo by Sport Fishing Tanzania

Sport Fishing Tanzania was hoping to be able to report that one of its passengers had broken the world record for dogtooth tuna.

But a large shark that had been lurking beneath the surface, as the angler was fighting the enormous dogtooth, had other plans.

Now it’s true that anyone can claim that his or her fish would have set a world record, without having the actual fish as proof.


But check out the head of the dogtooth in the image atop this post. The photo was posted as “a big tease” Saturday to the Sport Fishing Tanzania Facebook page, without any information.

“That looks like a monster,” one of the comments reads.

“HUGE!” reads another.

Several other photos were subsequently posted, however, revealing that the rest of the fish was missing; that the angler was left with only the head after the shark had claimed its body for dinner.

Christian Mercier displays 230-pound dogtooth tuna that is tied for the IGFA all-tackle world record; photo courtesy of IGFA

That produced another flood of comments, including this one: “The tax man is always around;  it comes down to the roll of the dice!”

So chalk this up as yet another story about the one that got away—albeit with a peculiar twist.

Would the dogtooth caught off Tanzania, in East Africa, had broken the IGFA’s all-tackle world record? (Roger Amand and Christian Mercier caught 230-pound dogtooth tuna at Mauritius in 1993 and 2007, respectively, and are tied for the record.)

That can never be known, but Sport Fishing Tanzania regularly targets giant dogtooth tuna, and it’s anglers have set several line-class world records for the species, and it says the fish head undoubtedly belonged to a record-size fish.

(Line-class records involve smaller fish caught on lighter line; the all-tackle record is heaviest fish regardless of line strength.)

“We already got many big dogtooth over 200 pounds [in the past], and several world records,” the charter company stated in response to an inquiry from GrindTV, asking for details about this partial catch. “From the size of the head, we reckon the fish would have been our biggest ever brought to the boat, and that it would have beaten the all-tackle world record.”

Sport Fishing Tanzania added: “The shark also was definitely huge, to take in its mouth the whole fish from the rear side and cut through its body in one go, but we are not new to similar experiences with sharks cutting in half fish of more than 100 kg [220 pounds] in one bite.”

The anglers were fishing at Latham Island and had logged catches of wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and giant trevally. But before heading back toward port at Dar es Salaam, they decided to jig over the reefs for dogtooth tuna.

“It took about 10 minutes of trying, then we finally got a take,” Sport Fishing Tanzania explained. “We all knew it was a big fish. The take was ferocious, extremely aggressive, and terribly fast. And the reel was screaming. There were several sudden changes of directions at very fast speed, then the fight style changed.”

It changed because the shark had finally caught up to the fleeing dogtooth.

“It had become very powerful but quite constant, which is when we believe the shark attacked and started taking away the fish in its mouth,” Sport Fishing Tanzania said. “Then eventually cutting through its flesh in one single bite, and the leftover piece was reeled in.”

A crazy day of fishing, to be sure.

Dogtooth tuna are also called scaleless tuna, lizard-mouth tuna, white tuna, vau, atu, kidukidu, or dadori. They inhabit tropical and subtropical areas of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, and are considered excellent table fare—by both humans and sharks.

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