Interview with fisherman who caught protected great white shark

NBC Los Angeles conducted an interview with Michael Castillo, the fisherman who caught and killed a shark from Huntington Beach Pier last month. The shark in question was a juvenile great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), which is a protected species in California waters. However, Castillo believed he had caught a shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), a species unprotected by law.

A warden from the California Department of Fish and Game examined Castillo’s catch and also identified the shark as a mako. However, the warden took teeth samples from the shark which later confirmed the species as being a white shark. After the shark was positively identified, the warden returned and confiscating the shark.

Castillo was not issued a citation for the white shark. However, NBC LA reports that DFG officials are still investigating the catch, and it will be up to the Orange County District Attorney’s office to decide whether charges will be filed. Castillo maintains that he did not know his catch was a protected white shark.


  1. Jill M. Palleschi says:

    Seriously, he couldnt tell that was a juvinile great white?!? Look at its body structure, the stream-lining, the color, its teeth……..How could he not tell the difference?? I could tell the difference and im not a fisherman nor an expert. This is sad and disappointing.

  2. sharkgirl says:

    ignorance of the law is never a valid excuse in a court of law. let’s hope the OC DA is better at their job than the DFG warden.

  3. Jennifer says:

    First,You can go to any Fish and Game website (or office) that provided mandatory information about what is or is not allowed to be caught, as well as catch limits and size limits. If you get a fishing license, this is information needed and you should be able to tell what species you’re catching, specially when there are species that are NOT ALLOWED to be caught!
    I also agree it looked NOTHING like a mako,there are no confusing the two.
    As for the fish and game person who originally said it was a mako as well, It should be brought into question whether they have the right person in that position- makes me wonder how many other people caught sharks/other fish that really were prohibited but had been misidentified.
    As for this fisherman (??), he says he was taught how to fish by a relative long ago..i find it extremely hard to believe that he couldn’t have known – unless he was taught to catch “whatever” with no knowledge of what he was catching. again, VERY hard to believe…..also how do you explain not only catching a juvie great white, but causing the suffering of this shark…dragging it down the pier like a piece of trash!??!?! how this person didn’t get cited even after being told it was a protected species is beyond me….they need to make an example here, or everyone will run around catching/killing protected species claiming that they thought it was something else. its a lame LAME excuse.

  4. rebeca says:

    I just posted on NBC LA’s fb page… Noticed there were no comments on the issue. Shark lovers please share your views so that our concerns are seen by all!

  5. steven says:

    the govements can do it when it suits them. Get a life ever been fishing you dont know whats on the hook for sure till you see it

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