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Why are dead hammerhead sharks washing up on Florida beaches?

Hammerhead sharks are washing up dead on Florida beaches, and marine researchers say fishermen may be to blame.
HammerheadDead

TAMPA, Fla. (NBC News) - Hammerhead sharks are washing up dead on Florida beaches, and marine researchers say fishermen may be to blame.

They may be killing them without even realizing it.

If you're looking for a good fishing spot, the Venice Fishing Pier is the place.

It's popular among both locals and tourists.

Joe Faust is happy catching anything, but sagging sharks is a special treat. But after catching, he always releases them.

"It's all about conservation and stuff like that for me," the fisherman said.

But sadly, in the past few weeks, four great hammerhead sharks have washed ashore in Sarasota County. Scientists believe all were caught and released.

"Don't ever take these fish out of the water," said Dr. Rober Hueter with the Mote Marine Lab.

He said hammerhead sharks are dwindling in numbers, and in these hot summer months, catching a hammerhead can put it in danger.

"This is water that doesn't hold a lot of dissolved oxygen, and so these sharks tire out very quickly," Hueter said.

10-15 minutes of fighting with them could exhaust them to the point of death. Even if they swim away, they could still die later.

Officials recommend releasing the shark as soon as you catch it.

"Don't bother to get it all the way to the boat," Hueter said. "I know everybody wants a picture and that's important. But what's more important, your picture or that animal's life?"

Officials also say a good course of action is to just cut the leader as quickly as possible.

What should you do if you spot a dead shark on the beach?

Call Wildlife. In some cases they may want to study the shark to find out exactly how it died.