Scuba instructor Tazz Felde with Under Pressure Divers helped rescue the distressed shark from an artificial reef system in about 20 feet of water at John Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island at Fort Walton Beach.
"It was between 6 and 7 feet," he told FOX Weather. "It was a pretty big shark."
Felde said another diver reported to his wife, who works for a local snorkel shop, that he and his son came across the trapped shark with a hook in its mouth. The two had made several attempts with no luck to free the shark, which was tethered to one of the reef structures.
Felde and a friend decided they would head out to see if they could help. It was a quick 100-yard swim out to the location target on Monday, Felde recalled.
"The area that they described where the shark was, it was there," he added. "There were a lot of monofilaments strung all over the reef. The shark was right on the bottom, and you can see it can only move its head just a little."
A nurse shark's mouth is filled with rows of small, serrated teeth for crushing hard-shelled prey, according to the National Aquarium. Although they're docile and mostly harmless to humans, they've been known to bite in self-defense.
Felde was able to cut the 120-pound test line's steel leader attached to the hook in the shark's mouth. Once freed from its entanglement, the shark swam off into the reef.
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Felde said he lost a pair of pliers that were pinched on the leader when the shark left in a hurry. He hopes the hook will eventually rust out, and the remaining leader will fall out as well.
"I just wanted to make sure that the thing was going to be free and live the rest of his life happy," Felde said. "Just watching it swim away was the reward."