The 1,200lb fish that didn't get away

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Fishermen have caught a 1,191lb (540kg) tiger shark off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a shark-fishing derby.

The shark - which reportedly had a large turtle still intact in its stomach - has been donated for research.

Damon Secco, the captain of the Castafari, who caught the shark, said: "It was the biggest fish that I've ever seen next to my boat."

Despite its size it did not win the derby because the boat missed the competition deadline by six minutes. The delay came because it had taken two hours to reel in the behemoth, which was caught using squid as bait.

It also missed out on the world record for a tiger shark, which is 1,780lbs. That fish was caught off the South Carolina coast in 1964. Tiger sharks can grow up to 18 feet (6m) in length, and are found in tropical and subtropical waters.

The tournament on Martha's Vineyard, now in its 19th year, is a two-day event in which contestants vie for more than $200,000 (£114,000) in prizes. However, some have questioned the level of the slaughter it involves.

But Greg Skomal, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries biologist who studies every shark that is brought in to be weighed, says the weekend is more about science than slaughter.

"Whether or not it is okay to kill sharks for sport, that's a philosophical discussion," he said. "And as far as the conservation aspect is concerned, this event would not be held if the sharks were in any trouble."

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