The man hooked a powerful marine monster while on a risk-taking shark hunt, transforming the exciting trip into a terrifying meeting with mysteries of the deep sea

Ian Atherton travelled from Lancashire to Florida and had hoped to hook a shark, but his adventure on a boat in the Atlantic ended up with him catching a much rarer sawfish

A Brit who headed over to Florida had been hoping to catch a shark on his visit – but ended up hooking something far rarer.

Ian Atherton had swapped the seaside of Fleetwood, Lancashire, for the US’s Space Coast when he went shark-fishing on Saturday morning.

His half-day adventure with Capt Jon Cangianellla of Fin & Fly charters saw them leave Port Canaveral and sail a few miles into the Atlantic.

When they arrived at the spot planned for their fishing, Ian put some bluefish on the hook in a bid to attract one of the fearsome predators – and he almost immediately got a bite.

But it was the start of an hour-long battle between the two, with Ian trying to reel in what he assumed was a shark.

But Jon soon realised that Ian had caught something much rarer than a shark – a 13ft-long sawfish.

The bizarre looking animals have a rostrum – or a saw – along their very long noses, which can be up to 5ft long.

Although they are also called carpenter sharks, they are really rays rather than sharks and are generally thought to be harmless to humans unless they are defending themselves.

Ian and Jon first recognised the sawfish when the rostrum – looking like a hedge trimmer – came out of the water.

The captain managed to free the fish – that are officially endangered – from the hook without getting the animal out of the water, and it swam off.

Smalltooth sawfish – which can be as long as 16ft – are known to inhabit Florida waters but they are rare, with fishing over the past century resulting in their numbers dwindling.

They are one of five species of sawfish around the world but the only one found off Florida’s Space Coast.

Sawfish have mythological significance in various societies around the world. In some parts of Africa, dancing dressed as sawfish forms part of coming-of-age ceremonies, while in Gambia the saws indicate courage.

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