Update 6 p.m.: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission previously investigated a man that has been widely tied by social media to the viral shark dragging video.
The FWC is not confirming any link between the man in the shark video to an investigation it opened in 2015 after photos of people handling birds were brought to its attention.
The bird-related investigation was closed in 2017 and no charges were filed, according to FWC spokesman Robert Klepper.
FWC has identified the men involved in the shark dragging video, but is not releasing their names at this time.
But photos of social media posts widely distributed online since the shark dragging video went viral this week, say the same man in the bird photos also was on the shark dragging boat.
The Palm Beach Post is not identifying the man because he has not been named by law enforcement.
Previous story: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified the men in the violent shark dragging video seen widely on social media, but is withholding their names as the investigation is ongoing.
“It is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident,” said FWC spokesman Robert Klepper. “However, the FWC would like to state that the lack of respect shown in this video for our precious natural resources is disheartening and disturbing, and is not representative of conservation-minded anglers around the world.”
The Sarasota Slam fishing tournament said Tuesday on its Facebook page that it had identified the men in the disturbing video that shows a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed.
It gave the names to authorities, saying the tournament will also ban the individuals from its competition.
“The Sarasota Slam is in NO WAY affiliated with the despicable behavior in the video on social media,” the Facebook post says. “We do not want to give those individuals any more attention.”
The video, which has been widely shared on social media and made national headlines, shows a shark being dragged at high speed behind a boat and the men laughing.
“Look, it’s already almost dead,” one says in the video.
Some fishermen said although the incident was cruel, it may not have broken any laws.
Marvin Steiding, owner and captain of Reel Candy Sport Fishing in Jupiter, said dragging the shark was “unnecessary and totally ridiculous.”
“A few captains are pretty upset,” said Steiding, who does allow clients to catch and release sharks. “I’m not a fan of killing them because they have no edible value except Mako and from an ecological value they are very important to our reefs.”
But because it’s hard to tell what kind of shark was being dragged in the video – not all species are protected – it could be difficult to levy any charges, Steiding said.
Blacktip, bonehead, bull, blue, nurse oceanic whitetip, shortfin mako and thresher are among the species that can be harvested, although some have size limits. About 25 species, including the tiger shark, are prohibited from harvest. That means if they are snagged by fishermen, they must be released as quickly as possible.
“I don’t know why it’s not covered under animal cruelty,” he said. “It’s just very unfortunate.”
According to WPTV:
Capt. Nate Weissman from Bradenton said he knows the captain in the shark video and the crew. He posted the video on his own Facebook page and tagged the captain and FWC in it.
He said he later received an apology from one of the people on the boat.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. Individuals can remain anonymous.