Boaters involved in shark-dragging viral video identified

State officials say they know who the people are in a video showing a shark being dragged and are looking at charges.

SARASOTA, FL -- It's an 11-second video clip that has a lot of you asking what will happen to the men seen in it.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hasn’t arrested the men, but they know who they are. FWC calls the lack of “respect” shown to the animal as "disheartening and disturbing."

“It’s suffocating, beaten on the waves  … (the) last moments of its life complete torture,” says Dr. Robert Hueter, Mote Marine’s director of the Center for Shark Research. "They don’t deserve the right to fish.”

The viral video shows the shark tied by its tail, dragged backwards by a speeding boat possibly traveling at 30 mph.

“It’ll be interesting to see what laws apply, if any. They are not endangered species, (so it's) probably legal catch, but dragging it backwards still alive at high speed, there’s no call for that comes down to animal cruelty,” says Hueter.

“Look, it’s already almost dead,” one of the boaters is heard saying in the video, laughing.

They "thought this was hilarious to do this to a shark,” Hueter said.

One of the boaters is seen wearing a shirt from the Sarasota Slam tournament. The group posted a message on its web page saying it’s in “no way affiliated with the despicable behavior in the video on social media.” 

The group also states the men are banned from the tournament.

Hueter says the shark appears to be a Black Tip, 150 pounds, about 7 feet long, female and possibly pregnant. While Black Tips are a legal catch, he says there are more humane ways to bring it in.

“They’re top predators in the ocean (and) keep a healthy balance. The level of Black Tip isn’t the issue. Thje issue is respect for individual animals, not torture animals.”

FWC says it's against protocol to identify the men while the investigation is open and they add it's to early to say if the men committed any violations.

The agency does ask anyone with information on this case to call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. You can remain anonymous.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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