Kirk Lombard, a man who has dedicated his entire adult life to sustainable fishing, has seen herring, jacksmelt, stripers, pile perch, monkeyface eel, clams, shrimp, crabs, and you-name-it if it lives in the sea. He's even seen sharks aboard his fishing boats, and was once, was almost eaten by one while abalone diving.
But he's never seen a shark wash up on shore and flounder to its death, tail flapping, right before his eyes.
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The 47-year-old native New Yorker who moved to San Francisco to run Seaforager Seafood, a "sustainable" fish delivery service with his wife, Camilla, was driving along the Great Highway on Tuesday to sell his tuba case (he's a musician, too, as he hails from a family of Broadway performers). That's when he spotted something only a pro might notice from 200 yards driving at 65 mph. A tail flapping. Seagulls flying over the Pacific Ocean.
And he knew in his gut, this had to be some big fish.
The former Pacific State Marine States Fisheries Commission observer and Dept. of Fish and Game inspector couldn't resist.
He circled back, knowing he'd be late to sell his tuba case, and parked alongside the highway. He hopped out at San Francisco's Ocean Beach and spotted the sharped-toothed carnivore.
"It didn't look like anything I'd ever seen," Lombard told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday. "It wasn't a striper. It wasn't a halibut. Oh my God, I think that's a shark."
The 50-pound shark, which Lombard thinks is a salmon shark, wasn't faring too well. And the seagulls knew it.
Lombard, whose zany fish films, music and "intertidal harveseting," have been noted by the New York Times to Sunset Magazine, captured a bit of the deep sea fish's last breaths.
He couldn't save it. So he let nature take over.
And for now, the passionate fisherman who also runs "coastal foraging" tours is just wowed by the fact that he was lucky in his life to see such a "large piscus megapredator" so close to him, even though the end wasn't happy for the majestic and fierce creature.
So for now, he's savoring the image, while also running around on Wednesday to host a "fish party" at the Driftwood Restaurant in San Francisco. The party will be highlighted with music by the Fishwives - his wife plays the accordian - and a film, "How Your Dinner was Caught." Their 8-month-old Djanjo will be there too, of course, singing harmony to his parents' folksy tunes.
"I took it as an omen," Kirkland said. "I was able to sell my tuba case for $250."
WATCH: Kirk Lombard speak at TEDXMonterey "The Gospel of Small Fishes"