Florida fisherman criticized for using 15-foot hammerhead shark as selfie prop

If you come across a 15-foot endangered great hammerhead shark being pulled onto shore, maybe you shouldn't think of it as a great opportunity for a quick selfie.

A group of three fisherman snagged a great hammerhead while sport fishing at a public beach on Singer Island last week, drawing a crowd of gawkers and selfie takers.

Onlooker Leigh Cobb, an experienced diver who tags and tracks sharks, recorded the final minute of the incident, claiming that the struggle took roughly 45 minutes, according to the Palm Beach Post.

"My adrenaline started and my disgust started," Cobb told WPTV. She expressed a level of disappointment that the shark was caught at all, but particularly that the shark became a photo opportunity before it was released back into the water.

The video has since created controversy about whether the shark was handled properly, or if it was exposed for too long. In the video, Cobb can be heard in the video screaming at the fisherman to get the shark back into the water.

The original video posted by Cobb is no longer public after heavy criticism.
Although the shark was released quickly after being unhooked, according to Marine Ecology Progress Series, great hammerheads are susceptible to high amounts of stress from incidents like this and often it can kill them.

One of the fishermen told the Post that the incident was handled responsibly, claiming that there was about half an hour of reeling the shark in, but the hammerhead was only out of the water for about two minutes so the hook could be removed. While out of the water the shark was also tagged, which will allow NOAA to collect data on it.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, it is illegal to harvest, possess or land great hammerhead sharks.


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