Edgar Green’s Great White

Edgar Green with Great White

Most people have heard a story or two from a fisherman about a particularly fantastic catch. Typically the fish is huge, valuable, or the catch made an impressive story. Some might exaggerate their accomplishments, but sometimes the stories are just as exciting as the photographs suggest. For Edgar Green, the tale is of a stormy night out on the water alone and the catch of one of the ocean’s top predators.

Edgar Green, a Cortez fisherman, has two mighty catches under his belt. The first of these stories follows the fight with a Great White, which was caught off of Longboat Key’s Whitney Beach in 1937. At the time, Green was employed by a shark fisherman, A. M. “Sharky” Holbrook. On this particular day he had attempted to pick up Holbrook before he went out but found that no one was at home. So on a cold and stormy Christmas Eve he set out onto the choppy waters alone in a 26-foot boat to check the lines. Before long, he noticed that one appeared to be caught on a rock. Green continued to slowly wrap the line around the stern post inch-by-inch and soon spotted a large Great White thrashing on the other end. Eventually the animal tired and was towed to Holbrook’s “shark factory” for harvesting. Its length and weight were not officially recorded but it is thought to have been approximately 20 feet long when it was compared to a 16 foot oar. It was the biggest he had ever encountered. The next day, the animal was harvested for its valuable fins, oil, and skin. The second of Green’s catches is shown through a photograph of Green holding up the head of a large hammerhead which was estimated to be 18 feet long and 1500 pounds. Details of this second catch, however, remain vague.

Although Green’s stories are thrilling, they are also rare. While Florida is prone to visits from many other shark species, it sees relatively little Great White activity along its shores. In the state of Florida today, it is illegal to harvest, land, exchange, sell, or possess certain species of sharks, including the Great White. As the top predator of the ocean, these animals are essential. They keep the ocean’s delicate ecosystem in balance by consuming other animals, such as smaller sharks, fish and crustaceans.  Even so, sharks will always hold a unique place in our imagination. For some people, like me, they can also be found lurking in their nightmares from time to time. Yet, it is unlikely that you will encounter one of these animals in the wild.

Today, some great whites, such as Mary Lee and Katharine, have obtained internet fame. You can track them as they cruise through the waters at ocearch.org. To read Edgar Green’s full story of this shark and other stories about the area, consider reading Anna Maria Island: the Early Days by Carolyn Norwood and Fogs Comin’ In by Doris Green.

Krystin grew up in Manatee County and treasures the unique history of the area.

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