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Florida man drags shark onto beach for brazen photo shoot, outrage machine roars

A Florida beach-goer has caused controversy after he pulled a shark out of the waterand posed with the animal for photos. The shark was later released into the water. (Courtesy of Ashleigh Waters WPTV)

Last week, disturbing video of an endangered baby dolphin being mobbed and then discarded on the beach by Argentinian swimmers produced a global eruption of online anger.

Some observers claimed the animal was dead by the time it was hoisted from the water, but for many it was the latest example of the extreme lengths people will go for a great profile pic.

Endangered baby dolphin dies after swimmers pass it around for selfies

A week later, a new video showing man interfering with nature for the sake of social media has surfaced. Following in the footsteps of its viral predecessor, the footage captures a dadbod bro -- complete with a man-bun -- dragging a thrashing Blacktip shark onto a Palm Beach, Fla., beach and holding the animal down in the sand with a wide grin on his face. A throng of laughing onlookers whip out smartphones and turn the semi-dangerous stunt into an impromtu photo shoot.

There's no disputing that the shark, which was initially snagged on a fisherman's line, is being unnecessarily harmed. What remains unclear is whether the animal is being mistreated to appease the stuntman or the people photographing him, as both parties quickly become part of a reinforcing feedback loop.

The video shows another man eventually pulling the shark back into the waves to set it free.

The footage was posted on Facebook by Ashleigh Walters, a TV anchor from local NBC affiliate WPTV, and has been shared almost 380,000 times and generated numerous comments from people wishing the man physical harm.

"I wish the Sharks would have biten that stupid man," Rosemary Caraballo wrote on Facebook. "All those people taking picture and filming Disgust me as well."

"Just stupid," Steve Lopez added.

"What is the most appalling ... and egregious here ... Is the amount of people wishing a man harm ... because he was fishing," Laura Diamond Burton wrote. "Which, BTW, is 100% legal last time I checked."

Calling the swimmer's actions "a stupid human trick," George Burgess, the head of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) told The Washington Post there's no reason to "abuse" a shark by taking it out of its natural environment.

"What the guy did was a bit of outdoor cowboy activity, your typical testosterone gone wrong," Burgess said. "The gentleman was not in great danger by doing what he did because it was a smaller shark, but had his hands gotten closer to the jaw, he could have been bitten and suffered the consequences of his actions."

"He was most likely doing this to impress a girl," he added.

It's not surprising to see swimmers encountering sharks along the Florida cost this time of year, Burgess said. Blacktips amass off the Florida coast this time of year before heading up the eastern seaboard as Atlantic waters warm, he noted. The animals are frequently found in knee deep water, where they hunt small fish close that cluster close to the shoreline.

Watch humans rescue a beached great white shark

Burgess said he suspects the shark survived the encounter and the video description says the shark was did not resurface after being placed back in the water. He pointed out that fisherman regularly pose with sharks before killing them and such displays are commonplace in Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sanctions the harvesting of certain types of sharks, including Blacktips.

Burgess has a rule, he said, that any shark that gets to about six feet long should be considered a potential hazard to a human. At that size, he said, their teeth are big enough, and their jaws strong enough, to cause serious damage to a person.

Had the man in the video been injured, Burgess said, he would've considered it part of the natural order of things.

"I'm a firm believer in Darwinian evolution," he told The Post. "If in the end, somebody gets eliminated doing something like this, I guess it's evolutionary justice. This time he got away with it, perhaps next time wont be so lucky.

"I'm also hoping he didn't get the girl," he added.


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