They went lookin’ for “Big Moe” and they might have found him.
James M. Platt, better known as “Bucko” around Marathon, squired around a team of scientists and videographers for five or six days earlier this year. The group was searching for more scientific data about hammerheads, a particularly elusive shark, and TV magic. The result is called “Monsters Under the Bridge” and airs on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.
It’s a very big deal to have a Florida Keys local featured on the Shark Week series, an annual week-long installment on Discovery Channel since 1988. And Big Moe is a Keys legend — a reported 18-foot long hammerhead — said to have eyeballs “as big as baseballs” and weighing close to 1,000 pounds. Most tales put Big Moe at the old Bahia Honda Bridge, while others have claimed to spot it, even land it, at 7 Mile Bridge.
Bucko said he and his fiancee, Melissa Bennett, and their boy James, were chosen for one simple reason — their tarpon-fishing skills.
“Tarpon fishing and hammerheads go hand in hand,” he said. “I do a lot of tarpon fishing on the bridge — 50 or 60 days a year — and we have a lot of hammerhead encounters,” he said.
So … did they find Big Moe?
“Probably. We definitely saw and filmed sharks in the range of 15 to 18 feet,” Bucko said, adding that the scientists aboard concurred.
Dr. Tristan Guttridge and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag tagged and collected DNA samples from big and small hammerheads at the bridges. They also filmed the sharks underwater to watch their interaction. According to an article in the San Antonio Express News, the scientists sent the samples to a renowned marine scientist David Portnoy, and the show will reveal whether or not these “monsters” are actually a new lineage of shark.
Very little is known about the Great Hammerhead, giving strength to the epic “it-was-this-big” lore. The questions start with the most basic — where do hammerheads “spawn,” or pup? There are theories, but no scientific evidence. But researchers do know that the Great Hammerhead gives birth to live pups, about 25 to 50 at a time.
Tune in to watch Bucko and family and find out more about hammerhead sharks on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.