Man Reels in Gigantic 13-Foot Hammerhead Shark: 'It Was Insane'

North Carolina resident Blake Cochran recently reeled in the catch of a lifetime: a hammerhead shark estimated to weigh between 500 and 700 pounds.

Hammerhead sharks are among the most distinctive of all sea creatures: as suggested by their name, the sharks are known for their uniquely flattened, "hammer"-shaped heads. The 10 species of hammerheads are well-suited to a range of environments and are found "widely distributed in tropical and temperate marine waters near the coasts and above the continental shelves," according to Britannica.

According to the North Carolina State University publication Coastwatch, scalloped hammerheads "are the most common large hammerhead species" found in the state. However, their population numbers have plummeted due to severe overfishing. Smooth, great, and Carolina hammerheads are also found in the region.

Hammerhead Shark
North Carolina resident Blake Cochran caught a 13-foot hammerhead shark near North Topsail Beach. A great hammerhead shark in the Bahamas, 2007. Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images

While the species of hammerhead caught by Cochran remains unclear, one thing is certain: the creature was massive. According to Charlotte-based television station WSOC-TV, the shark measured 13.5 feet in length.

A paramedic by trade, Cochran told the news outlet that his true passion is fishing. On monthly fishing excursions with his friends, Cochran likes to set up in a kayak paddled about 400 yards offshore. Until this recent fishing trip, his catches were always modest in size.

"I knew it was something big," he said, describing the day he caught the hammerhead. "The biggest shark I've caught up to this point was like [four] feet, and this one, when I pulled it in, it was insane."

"It's almost like catfishing from the beach," he said. "You sit and wait after you take your bait out, and all of a sudden that reel started screaming. It was like being hooked to a car."

After reeling in the hammerhead—which he identified by its dorsal fin—Cochran and his buddies hauled the shark up for a quick picture. They then safely released it back into the water.

"He was pretty heavy," explained Cochran to WSOC-TV. "It takes two to three people. You wade out to your neck and revive them and then let them go."

The hammerhead was caught in the waters off North Topsail Beach—and, understandably, the giant creature also caught the attention of onlookers.

"When we caught that one, a lot of folks came up and said, 'Oh my God, I'm not gonna let my kids swim here,'" recalled Cochran. However, he believes that the presence of sharks doesn't deter anyone from enjoying the beach. "There's sharks in the water. It's the ocean, it's their home," he said. "They're not gonna bother you unless you bother them."