For one fishing team, the “tax man” took a brutally large chunk of change and just a small chunk of flesh earlier this month. Not that the shark would care.

The incident took place in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, which had 271 participating boats and took place in Morehead City, North Carolina. One team “Sensation,” came into the dock at 11:30 p.m. on June 17, after fighting a blue marlin catch for six hours. 

The fish weighed in unofficially at 619.4 pounds. But, as the fish was weighed, the Big Rock announcer Tommy Bennet, exclaimed “It would appear that this fish has been bitten by a shark” in a live stream on YouTube

The small bite mark, which members of the Sensation team told Pirate Radio TV was “superficial,” was cause for concern. The team would later be disqualified by Big Rock, which cited IGFA rules. According to a statement released by the competition, the organization disqualified the catch because the IGFA does not certify records where there is any “mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh.”’ 

Sensation lost out on their prize money, including an extra $739,500 for hauling in the first catch to surpass the 500-pound mark.  “We worked hard, we felt like what we did was incredible with this fish, and we knew we had won the tournament,” Sensation Capt. Greg McCoy told CNN. “I knew that fish was gonna destroy the other fish on the leaderboard weight-wise, and that’s exactly what it did. We followed all the rules. There was nothing nefarious or cheating or anything like that on our part.”

The boat that ultimately won was the “Sushi,” which brought in a 484.5-pound blue marlin. Zack Stroupe, a member of the Sushi crew, told WNCT that they were “happy to take the win” and that the team feels “blessed.”

According to NPR, Ashley Bleau, the owner of Sensation, has filed a protest over the disqualification. The tournament stated that the “decision is consistent with prior decisions made by the tournament in similar circumstances over the last 65 years,” but some are doubtful. Bleau cited the 2019 contest, where a 914-pound blue marlin brought in by a boat called Top Dog won though the fish was clearly damaged from exhaust rash upon weigh-in. Captain McCoy told the Washington Post that the whole dilemma has been “a tough pill to swallow.”

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