Dead sharks missing fins and jaws found at Phil Foster Park

Sharks found during a dive Friday
Posted at 8:53 PM, Jan 10, 2017

More troubling discoveries at a local park where people go to swim and snorkel.

Last month, we first told you about divers finding a beheaded nurse shark and other carcasses at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach. This week, divers are reeling after finding two more dead sharks, this time with the jaws and fins removed and pieces of flesh scattered around. Both of the butchered shark carcasses were left behind.

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The people who dive and snorkel there say something needs to be done to stop this.

"It breaks my heart," said local diver, Roger Haddix. "We love our sharks, we bond with them we have a relationship with them."

The sharks were found during a dive on the northeast end of the park on Friday.

"I noticed that there were fish swarming in an awkward manner around a carcass of something," said diver Ryan Walton, who found the sharks. "So I swam over. And lo' and behold, we have some more dead sharks here at the Blue Heron Bridge."

The sharks were missing fins and the jaws were completely removed. In one of the pictures provided by divers who were on site,  you can see a clean slice on what's left of a tail.

"Removing of the jaws is something commercial fishermen don't usually do," said Walton. "For me to see them dead in a place that you're not supposed to see them like that was very hard for me. I got tears in my mask."

The divers reported the find to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. We spoke with their main office in Tallahassee and were told they were aware of the incident but couldn't say whether or not an investigation has been launched.

"You shouldn't be fining the sharks. That is something that's prohibited, to take the fins and returning the rest of the fish to the water," said Amanda Nalley, public information specialist for FWC. "These sharks that are being found at the bottom of the bay there could be considered wanton waste."

The law states any shark you catch must be taken in whole condition.

"Certainly we want to make sure that shark is landed in whole condition. If you're not going to use all of the shark, you need to be cognizant of the regulation," said Nalley.

Nalley said FWC agents are tasked with reminding those who fish what the regulations are. She added that the agency is working on updated guidelines to educate the public on the rules and regulations regarding sharks.

"We have FWC law enforcement that is out and about, but the local law enforcement agencies help enforce our regulations as well," she said.

While it's unknown who is leaving behind the shark carcasses, divers tell me law enforcement is not doing enough.

"We need better monitoring here, we need help," said Walton.

"I definitely think more policing, more FWC agents and more awareness will help out tremendously," said Haddix.

We reached out to Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation but have not heard back. We also reached out to PBSO, which is in charge of policing in that area. They say incidents like these are usually in the hands of FWC.

Nalley stresses that if you see any wildlife violations, please report it by calling their hotline 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).