A graphic video of a shark being dragged behind a boat at a high speed has gone viral and caused outrage.
“It’s just really hard to watch,” said Bryce Rohrer with Florida Shark Diving. “You have this amazing animal just cart-wheeling backwards.”
While shark experts agree the video is awful, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is investigating which, if any, laws might have been broken.
There are several different factors that go into that decision. First it depends if the incident happened in state, federal or international waters.
It is also important what type of shark it was.
Shark expert Alex Carrier said he watched the video multiple times and can narrow it down.
“It’s either a long fin mako, short fin mako or a spinner,” Carrier said.
A long fin mako would be protected from harvesting in Florida waters, while the other two would not.
The next question is if the shark was still alive when the video was shot.
“You can clearly tell in the video that it’s still alive and it keeps opening it’s mouth,” Carrier said. “It’s very clear the agony the shark is in.”
Dragging sharks behind boats in slow speed is a common technique of killing sharks.
But Rohrer said that's not what he saw in this video.
“This was not an act of fishing in a fishing tournament," Rohrer said. "This was complete animal torture.”
Capt. Nate Weissman from Bradenton said he knows the captain in the shark video and the crew. He posted the video on his own Facebook page and tagged the captain and FWC in it.
He then received an apology from one of the crew members via text message.
“I realize what we did was stupid," the message reads. "I have learned from my actions, and I am sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Shark experts are hoping FWC will take actions. Rohrer said if nothing else, the video shows a clear case of animal cruelty.
“It’s just so violent and so wrong," Rohrer said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued the following statement:
The FWC was alerted to a video by a web tip on July 24 which is circulating on multiple social media sites showing a group of individuals traveling at high speed on the water dragging a shark behind the vessel.
The FWC takes this very seriously and is currently investigating this incident. The FWC has identified the individuals in the video, and would like to thank the public for their assistance. Per normal protocol, while this investigation is ongoing, the agency will not be confirming the identities of the individuals involved.
Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. Individuals can remain anonymous.
It is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident. However, the FWC would like to state that 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.