Most people don’t think of fishing as a contact sport.
But Elliot Sudal, a boat operator from Nantucket, gets down and dirty when reeling in sharks on the beaches of Nantucket.
You might remember Sudal from a viral shark wrestling video that catapulted him to fame in 2013. He’s still fishing for sharks, and he uploads insane photos of himself with his catches to @acksharks, his Instagram account.
Zachary Weiss of the Observer tracked Sudal down for an interview. He found that what started as a dangerous hobby has now opened professional opportunities for Sudal.
“I just sort of liked doing this recreationally until last year when this thing [the video] happened, and now I’m this poster child for shark fishing,” he told the Cape Cod Times.
The account is filled with pictures of Sudal doing what he does best — grabbing huge sharks with his bare hands, bringing them onto the beach, and then setting them free.
Here are some of his coolest catches.
Sudal lives in Nantucket, where he captains a private fishing boat and catches sharks in his spare time.
His love of fishing comes from his childhood in Burlington, Connecticut. 'I had a big pond in my backyard, which I think of as my gateway drug to this wild fishing addiction I've developed,' he told the New York Observer.
Since graduating, he's travelled to Alaska, Florida and the Long Island Sound to pursue his passion for the sea.
Two years ago, Sudal moved permanently from Florida to Nantucket. That's when he caught his big (200 pounds to be exact) break.
Sudal hauled in a 7-foot shark in front of about 20 stunned observers. His video went viral, and he appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends and many other television shows.
These days, Sudal has settled into a truly unique routine. Almost every day, he drinks three cups of coffee, goes to the gym, eats a pint of Ben and Jerry's, and wrestles gigantic sharks.
Yes, you read that right. Although Sudal is very much in-shape, he can't help but eat a pint of ice cream a day. 'I actually think ice cream makes me happier than being slightly more defined would,' he told the Observer.
Sudal is working on his own shark show, which is being filmed in Nantucket this summer. Although the details are murky, he'll likely try to combat the violent portrayal of sharks that Shark Week programming perpetuates.
He also has a book deal, and he's expected to participate in National Geographic's sea survival series 'The Raft,' according to the Observer.
Sudal tags his catches and sets them free, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on shark conservation efforts.
However, he still gets plenty of angry letters from shark advocates, according to the Cape Cod Times.
Sudal's shark-wrestling successes on the beaches of Nantucket might frighten some Nantucket vacationers. 'People don't realise there are so many sharks here,' he told the Cape Cod Times. 'People don't like to think about it but there are only like five to 10 deaths from shark attacks every year, and that's worldwide.'
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