A video out of Palm Beach, Florida, has sparked a controversial debate online. It shows a man reeling in a shark, wrestling it in the sand and then snapping photos with it.
Fishermen are seen in the video hooking a 4-5 foot blacktip shark over the weekend, according to NBC affiliate WPTV. Video of the photo shared by one of the station’s reporters has been seen more than 280,000 times.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this is legal, and it’s more common than you might think.
“There’s nothing legally wrong with this,” FAU biological science professor Dr. Stephen Kajiura told WPTV, adding that fishing for sharks is a popular sport.
However, the professor said compare pulling a fish out of water to you going under.
“When it starts thrashing and flipping around, it could be doing internal damage that the fisherman can’t see,” Kajiura explained. “It looks like it swims away just fine, but it might be swimming away with a ruptured liver, for example.”
This shark incident comes on the heels of another controversial human-animal interaction in Argentina. A baby dolphin died on a beach in the South American coutry last week after a group of people passed the animal around for pictures, a wildlife foundation said.
Fishing for sharks from the shore is allowed in Florida, but you’re not allowed to fish in between the guarded signs at any beach in Palm Beach County. The fishermen reportedly followed those rules.
While it’s not legal to fish for some types of sharks, it is legal to catch a blacktip like the one seen in the video.
The fishermen in the video said they were careful to get the shark back in the water in less than 90 seconds, and are always careful of who is around them.