Fishermen accused keeping shark on land too long

Posted at 7:04 AM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 13:58:04-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A conservation group is blaming the fishermen for killing a hammerhead shark they caught this weekend, even though they threw the shark back in the water off Fort Myers Beach.

"Sharks After Dark* is an animal activist group.  It's members say the fishermen in these photos waited too long to release the shark back into the water.  They posed for pictures instead, and that delay stressed the shark out and led to his death.

"I  would probably want to get my picture with it too," says one beach goer Fox 4 talked to Wednesday. "To at least show my friends and family that I caught a hammerhead."

But seasoned anglers and conservationists say this is not a trophy fish, it's torture.

"The way they went about it was 100 percent wrong.  I mean, you don't pull a hammerhead all the way up onto the beach, you don't let it dry out, and you definitely don't sit on top of it and take photos," says Melinda Colon with Sharks After Dark.

She believes the fishermen contributed to the hammerhead's death Sunday morning, instead of immediately releasing it into the water as required by law.

The shark was later found dead along the beach Monday morning.

"The public works guys picked it up, hauled it off in a golf cart, took it to town hall's dumpster, and threw it in the dumpster," says Colon.

She says she's outraged city officials didn't call Fish and Wildlife instead.  "There could have been a million other reasons why that shark died; it could have gotten sick, it could have been anything."

And that's why some people say we shouldn't rush to judgment deciding the fate of the woman and others in the pictures.  "If there's not the evidence to prove that she caused its death, then I wouldn't say she should be in trouble for it at all," says the beach goer.

Fox 4 spoke with someone at FWC on Wednesday.  They are investigating, but cannot say if charges will be filed at this time.