Viral video showing a large shark being dragged behind a Florida sportfishing boat at high speed has sparked social media outrage and prompted a state investigation.
The video, which contains graphic footage, was widely shared after it was posted to the Facebook group, Shark Fishing Worldwide, on Monday by by Brice Walker. The caption reads: “Bull Buster is so tough you can drag a shark at 30 knots with it.”
The footage shows three men seemingly enjoying what appears to be a cruel post-catch ritual.
Walker told me that he wasn’t on the boat, but identified the captain as Michael Wenzel. This could not be confirmed, however, and Wenzel did not respond to a Facebook message sent Monday night.
Rob Klepper, Public Information Coordinator for the FWC, said Tuesday, “The FWC has been alerted to a video 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. We are also attempting to identify the individuals in the video and where it took place.”
Klepper added, “It’s too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident.”
Reactions were were mixed on the Shark Fishing Worldwide comments thread, but predominantly negative on other pages where the footage had been shared.
“Why would someone do this?” one commenter wrote. “Is it supposed to be funny? I would love to drag his dumb ass the same way! I love to shark fish, but everything I catch is released.”
It’s not clear whether the shark was alive before it was roped and towed, but Walker said, “I’m pretty sure it was alive. They put a tail rope on them then drag them to kill them. That’s a standard method in tournaments. I have seen guys do it at high speed before, but these guys were dumb to film it. [They] didn’t realize it would spread as fast as it did.”
Klepper said that anyone with information pertaining to this incident “is urged to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. Individuals can remain anonymous.”