We all have a favorite holiday.
Some of us love Christmastime and the festivities leading up to it. Some of us prefer Thanksgiving with good food and great company. And some of us enjoy the simple pleasures in life that July 4th brings.
But for hardcore seafood fans, there’s one holiday that stands out as distinctly ours. That’s right, folks—it’s Shark Week.
Starting this Sunday, the Discovery Channel will be flooding your TV screen with new footage of America’s favorite nautical predators, and millions of devoted fans will tune in from all around the world. Some of the deadliest sharks on the planet will be featured, from the coast of Hawaii to the tip of Australia.
But sharks aren’t as exotic as you may think.
Thankfully, there are not many Great Whites living off the coast of Alabama (so you can re-watch your copy of “Jaws” without any fear). But we do provide a home to several species of shark.
We’ve got some of the more famous sharks, like Hammerheads—Scalloped Hammerheads, to be specific. Nothing on this earth looks quite like a Hammerhead, and some anglers found this out for themselves when a 126-pound Hammerhead was reeled in at this year’s Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the largest fishing tournament in the world.
Hammerheads may be dangerous, but they’re nothing compared to some of Alabama’s other sharks. Bull Sharks are one of the most dangerous species in the world, and they measure in at sizes up to 11 feet.
And then there’s the fearsome Tiger Shark. Known for its distinctive vertical stripes, Tiger Sharks are as dangerous as their jungle cat namesake. But the scariest part isn’t the stripes—it’s the size. Tiger Sharks are typically 13 to 21 feet, but they can grow up to 26 feet.
While sharks are the undisputed kings of the ocean, they don’t always stay below the surface. The Blacktip Shark, Alabama’s most common large coastal shark, and the Spinner Shark, a relatively harmless species, both feed on schools of fish by propelling themselves upward and rotating along their axes. Once they reach the surface, they leap out of the water and spin through the air. So make sure you’ve got your camera ready next time you go deep-sea fishing.
Alabama’s sharks can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid sharks altogether.
In fact, sharks are a popular target for anglers of every level. Any of Alabama’s non-protected sharks will certainly put up a fight, and if you’re lucky enough to reel one in, it’ll make quite a trophy. (Just study up with our shark fishing tips from last year, and make sure you follow Alabama’s rules and regulations for shark fishing.)
But the biggest prize you’ll get for reeling in a shark? Good eatin’.
Lots of people don’t realize that you can eat shark just like any other Alabama fish. Shark meat is thick and beefy, so the most common (and the best) way to prepare shark is to slice them half an inch to an inch thick and grill them like steaks (the same way you would with Tuna). It will elevate your Shark Week experience to a whole ‘nother level.