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Video of shark being reeled in at California pier sparks investigation

Illegal shark catch?

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- California authorities are investigating after video surfaced of fishermen reeling in what appears to be a juvenile great white shark on the Huntington Beach Pier.

State Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said Wednesday that it’s unclear what happened to the shark after it was hauled onto the pier in Orange County last week.

The two-minute video, which has received thousands of YouTube views, cuts off as the shark thrashes around and a crowd cheers.

“Hey, take a picture fast,” one man yells.

Mike Hefner, who was on the pier taking the video, told CBS Los Angeles the fishermen caught the shark and then tried to bring it up in a net but it was too big. They then decided to pull it up using a large rope and a hook called a gaff. Once the shark was on the pier, they posed for a photo.

Great whites are protected under state and federal laws and fishermen who catch one are required to release them immediately or face fines up to $10,000, Hughan said.

However, he said, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the shark on the pier was a great white or a bull shark.

“The video is pretty grainy and it’s difficult to identify,” he said.

Last week in Huntington Beach, five men were able to drag a 500-pound great white back into the water after someone hauled it ashore.

Marine Safety Officer Michael Bartlett said the angler was surf casting Feb. 21 when he unknowingly reeled in the 8-foot shark.

The men cautiously pushed and pulled the shark -- avoiding its teeth -- until they managed to get it back into the waves.