Animal Rights

Picture: Rosie O'Donnell's Shark Fishing Trip Draws Fire

| by Michael Allen

Rosie O'Donnell has drawn criticism from environmentalists for fishing for huge hammerhead sharks off the South Florida coast. Florida banned killing them Jan. 1, 2012, after O'Donnell's fishing trips.

Mark "The Shark" Quartiano, a Miami Beach shark fisherman who guided her expeditions, recently posted a photo of O'Donnell next to a dead hammerhead on his web site as "This Month's Celebrity Angler" (picture below).

Since then, environmentalists have attacked her via Facebook and Twitter accounts, accusing her of going after species that are struggling to survive.

Erik Brush, a Sarasota marine conservationist who helped start the campaign against O'Donnell said: "Right now sharks are the most endangered animals around. This is basically an endorsement. It sends the message that it's an OK activity. And this is not an activity that we want celebrities endorsing."

O'Donnell's publicist did not respond to requests for comment, but Quartiano defended the trips and Rosie: "She's amused by it. She wants me to go on her show."

He said the few caught for sport were dwarfed by the huge numbers taken by commercial fishing fleets.