U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. (Ret.), Tazz Felde, 24th Special Operations Wing Occupational Safety Manager, received an unusual call from his wife Monday afternoon. A six to seven-foot nurse shark was tangled up in an artificial reef near Beasley Park off of Okaloosa Island.
“We were made aware of a nurse shark in distress at a reef here in Destin,” said Felde. “Another diver reported that he and his buddy had come across the shark, with a large hook in its mouth, and were unsuccessful at freeing the animal.”
In a video posted to Felde’s Youtube channel, you can see the shark laying on the bottom with a large hook in its mouth. The hook was attached to a steel leader with 100-150 feet of fishing line that had become wrapped around the reef.
- “My wife, Courtney, told me if I didn’t go free the shark she was going to do it herself,” said Felde. “I knew the worst that could happen was that it crushed my hand. He would certainly break my hand if he got it in his mouth, but my concern was making sure that it was freed and able to go about its day.”
Felde cleaned up more than a hundred feet of tangled fishing line while diving to help protect other marine life at the reef.
While working in his off time as the co-owner of Under Pressure Divers, Felde says he always teaches his students to not be afraid of sharks or marine life, and to always leave the water better than they found it.
“I don’t want people to be afraid of them because they’re really no harm to us in the grand scheme of things,” said Felde. “Don’t be scared of sharks. A lot of stuff you see on TV during Shark Week can be scary, and a lot of it is real, but for the most part, sharks don’t really bother us much.”
This story was originally published on July 27, 2023 by Capt Savannah Stephens, 24th Special Operations Wing.