Animal rights organization PETA has a new ad out implying a man attacked by a shark in the Bay area this weekend deserved it. With a bloodied human leg sticking out of a shark’s mouth, the ad reads: “Payback Is Hell. Go Vegan.”
The victim of the attack, C.J. Wickersham, was spearfishing when a bull shark bit his leg, and had to get about 800 stitches to close the flesh over his thigh bone. He says he has no hard feelings about the shark, but has not commented on the ad.
“We're glad that Mr. Wickersham is going to be OK,” PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “But we do hope that after this painful and frightening experience he will consider the terror and pain fish feel when they are impaled and suffocated to death. Maybe he will consider taking up another pastime.”
According to the New York Daily News, PETA has not yet been able to find a home for the ad, which already has shark anglers, parents and others up in arms.
“If I see one of those billboards that they plan on putting up, I will burn it down,” shark angler Bill Goldschmitt told Florida's WWSB-TV, an ABC affiliate.
A parent on the Herald-Tribune site called the ad “offensive.”
“I have a 5 year old son who is already dealing with the fears of shark attacks and seeing this ad will only add fuel to the fire,” the parent wrote. “They should know better then to run an ad like this. Shame on PETA!”
The Pew Environment Group estimates that nearly 30 percent of sharks are at risk of extinction.
PETA gave up plans for similar ads in 2001 after a spate of shark attacks claimed the lives and legs of people on the East Coast.
Update, 1:27 p.m.
This group of surfers may not have seen PETA’s ad, but they sure understood the sentiment. After seeing a great white shark wash ashore with a fish hook in its mouth, the surfers and bystanders quickly rushed to rescue it: