While sport fishing may be a popular activity in Florida, animal abuse isn’t. Which is why a video showing four men dragging a shark by the end of their speedboat has sparked outraged on the internet. Even professional shark hunters have found this footage to be anything but “sport” and believe it should instead be considered “animal cruelty”.
The video shows a live shark with one end of a rope tied to its tail and the other end tied to the boat. Moving at a high speed, the boat violently drags the shark behind it, with the animal flailing brutally along the surface of the water. The camera then turns to show three men on the boat, all laughing and pointing at the shark. One man can be heard saying through the laughter,“look it’s already almost dead”. The video was sent via Instagram direct message to MarkQuartiano, arenowned local charter fishing captain, know as“Mark The Shark”. It was sent by two users who Mark did not know, but believed to be the men on the boat.They appeared to be seeking praise from the celebrity fishing captain for the incredibly disturbing footage. The video was sent by two accounts named @bearjew428 and @MICHAELWENZEL, both of which have since been taken down. Mark was also sent a gruesome follow-up image,whichshows two men (whose faces are not shown) holding what appears to be the same shark “ripped to pieces”.Wesh2 News says that they have obtained the picture, but are not releasing it due to its highly graphic nature. Mark was rightfully outraged by the video, so he posted it to his Instagram, where it has since been viewed over 56,000 times. He has described the act as “one of the most horrific things [he has] seen in 50 years of professional sport fishing”. In regards to the illegality of the act, Mark said, “I don’t know if this is criminal, but it would seem to me that this is animal cruelty and they should be prosecuted.There’s just no reason for this behavior.” The internet, naturally, was outraged by the video. Many commenters posted their disgust with the level of disrespect shown by the men on the boat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched an investigation, asking the public to watch the video and try to help them identify the men responsible. They were soon able to determine who the men are, but have not released their names, as the investigation is ongoing. They have also said that it is too early to conclude if any violations technically took place. The Commission posted a thank-you to the community for helping to their Instagram: “An overwhelming number of calls, emails, social media messages and posts have been received in response to our request for information about a disturbing video of individuals dragging a shark behind a boat. Our Division of Law Enforcement has now identified the individuals in the video, and are currently conducting an investigation into this incident. Since the investigation is active, we cant confirm the identities of the individuals, and it is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident. However, we would like to state that the lack of respect shown in this video for our precious natural resources is disheartening and disturbing, and is not representative of conservation-minded anglers around the world.” If nothing else, the only good to come out of this event is that the men were identified with the help of an outraged internet. It is comforting to know that in this day and age, if the public is made aware of it, animal abuse will not be tolerated.
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