A Florida fisherman is facing immense backlash for footage of his capture of an endangered hammerhead shark, the incident being labeled “legal torture” for its gory nature.
The brutal footage surfaced on Florida fisherman Mark the Shark’s own social media page. The self-proclaimed “notorious shark hunter” filmed and posted the encounter to promote his shark fishing business.
In the footage, the hammerhead shark, a protected species in parts of the US and Australia, thrashes violently in the back of a boat, both the animal and the vessel covered in blood. Distressed and in obvious pain, it appears the shark had been out of the water for some time.
For more than a minute, the fisherman films as a man approaches the shark and attempts to provoke it. He then latches the back of the boat, preventing its escape. The panicked hammerhead shark, however, flails so wildly that it escapes anyway.
The comments on the video are filled with disgust, with many users expressing disbelief that an experienced fisherman would treat an endangered species with such cruelty. “This is horrible!! SHAME,” one user wrote. “Stop killing our hammerheads. Please, for the love of God, have some empathy for our ecosystem and our planet,” another said.
Despite the disturbing nature of the footage, Mark the Shark maintains that his trips are family-friendly, advertising “kids [are] welcome” on the same Instagram page on which he posted the blood-soaked video.
Hammerhead Shark Likely Didn’t Survive, Expert Says
Though hammerhead sharks are a protected species in Florida, the fisherman’s actions are likely technically legal. All he has to do is venture past Florida waters and into federal waters, where state law doesn’t apply.
Unsurprisingly, the footage shocked not only social media users but aquatic wildlife experts as well. Upon viewing the video, shark expert and conservationist Dr. Leonardo Guida declared it a “complete lack of consideration for animal welfare.”
Because the shark’s eyes are on the side of its head, it likely damaged them severely in fear by smashing them on the deck of the boat.
“Hammerheads are known by scientists to suffer extreme amounts of stress when they are caught on line,” Guida explained to Yahoo News. “I don’t know whether that shark would survive. But suffice to say it doesn’t look to be in a good condition.”
Andy Casagrande, another shark specialist, was so outraged by the video that he demanded action from Florida’s governor. Calling the incident “irresponsible and unsustainable tourism,” he slammed the entire state for allowing such treatment of hammerhead sharks.
“Welcome to Florida, come on down. Bring the kids, bring grandma, bring the whole family, and enjoy the legal torture and murder of endangered species,” he said. “WTF is wrong with people that actually enjoy this?”