“I released the fishing line to hook a Kattelhi (Prometheus gemfish) and prepared a heap of Dho’haaey (mixture of betel leaf and areca nut). I chewed it and relaxed. After a while my fishing line “transformed” into an “iron bar.” I could not literary pull an inch towards the surface. I called the other fishermen in the bokkura. They came for help. The bokkura was tilted to one side. Four of us couldn’t pull the creature up. It was as if we had hooked on a mountain. We knew that it was a large femunu- the tiger shark.

A yellow fin tuna attacked by a Tiger SharkAnd we cut the line with a knife. Femunu eats their prey whole, and won’t swim away with the bait or prey.,” Ibra Keulhaa, an experienced fisherman, gave an account of how they encounter these giants while fishing. Kattelhi fishing is carried out at night, normally between 7pm to 11pm. Some fishermen witness these giants lurking around their vessels when they deploy their fishing lines with fish baits. Fishermen are shocked to see these huge creatures swimming furtively around their small bokkuraas, vessels that are smaller than these giants. This is an enemy of Maldivian fisherman. These giants eat anything they find. They prefer to hunt in the dark. Their normal prey includes smaller shark species and a variety of fish, dolphins, birds, turtles, crustaceans and squid.

When tunas are hooked in fishing lines, these creatures ascend like sea skimming cruise missiles, attacking the tunas that are being pulled towards the surface by fishermen. Half of the tuna are salvaged.

When the fishermen pull the catch towards the surface, they get a small part of the head only. Tiger sharks are commonly found off shore of thoondu, northern beach, and also around Fuvahmulah.

Quick facts
Grow slowly
Take many years to mature (12 to 18 years in some species)
Often reproduce only every other year
Have few young per brood (only 2 pups in some species)
Have specific requirements for nursery areas (bays and estuaries)
Are caught in many types of fishing gear (hook and line, gillnet, trawl)

Sharks have adaptations allowing them to be apex predators including:
Teeth that are replaced throughout their life
Sensitive smell receptors
Eyes that adapt quickly to low light levels
Lateral line receptors that sense movement in the water
Electroreceptors that detect electrical fields due to the presence of prey