A video (below) of some unidentified men dragging a shark with a speedboat has sparked an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The video was posted on Instagram by Capt. "Mark The Shark" Quartiano on July 24 with a caption: "CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WTF IS GOING ON HERE ???? JUST GOT THIS ON MY FEED!"
Quartiano, a self-described shark hunter, told WFOR that a social media admirer sent him the video hoping for praise:
When I first saw it I almost, threw up. It was so horrifying ... They said, "Oh, this is pretty cool, look what we did to the shark," and I go, "Are you kidding me man?" and that's when I instantly reposted it, and that's when all the feedback started coming out. All the people started going crazy and it went viral ... To drag a shark by the tail on a rope, it's not sporting. It's not. It should be against the law.
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The same person who sent Quartiano the video also sent him a picture of the dead shark, so he notified the FWC, which tweeted a statement on July 25:
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 investigation this incident. We are also attempting to identify the individuals in the video and where it took place.
The FWC confirmed the men's identities on July 26, but has not released their names as the investigation continues, according to the Miami Herald. One of the men has reportedly posted disturbing pictures of himself in the past manhandling fish and birds, including a pelican, two dead tarpon and a spotted eagle ray.
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"I heard he’s a real nut case, to be nice about it," Quartiano told the Miami Herald.
FWC spokesman Rob Klepper said those pictures were investigated in January, but no charges were filed at the time.
"We’re trying to let our investigators do their work and we don’t like to get out in front of them," Klepper told the newspaper. "And we really appreciate the public’s help. We had a huge amount of tips come into our hotline and it was really helpful."
Quartiano added: "I've killed tens of thousands of sharks but not tortured them, not inhumanely and not disrespected them like that."
If the men dragged the shark when it was alive, they may have violated Florida's cruelty to animals law, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Quartiano said people often show off with pictures of sharks: "I see it all the time. It goes against everything in my body. Don't get me wrong. I’m not a PETA guy. But in this case, PETA may have a case."
Sources: Capt. "Mark The Shark" Quartiano/Instagram, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Twitter, WFOR, Miami Herald / Photo credit: Allan Lee/Flickr, mtsrs/Flickr, Malkusch Markus/Flickr