A disturbing video of a juvenile great white shark being hauled up onto the Huntington Beach Pier and an equally disturbing photo of the fishermen posing with the catch has created an uproar on social media.
The video posted on Facebook by Mike Hefner and the photo posted on Facebook by Diego Gamboa Fishing not only sparked outrage but could help enforcement agents with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in identifying the offending anglers.
Great white sharks are protected. It is illegal to catch a great white shark and when one is hooked, it is supposed to be released as soon as possible, not landed so photos can be taken, as what happened in this case. And you certainly don’t gaff the shark, which also occurred.
“The fisherman should have cut the line when it surfaced,” Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis told the Orange County Register, which reported that fish and wildlife officials are investigating the Tuesday incident that could result in a $10,000 fine.
“They are aware of the video and they have investigators assigned to it,” Panis told the Register. “When you catch something, there’s a lot of social media and fish and game will find out.”
Diego Gamboa Fishing’s post of the fishermen posing with the great white shark was described with informing the authorities in mind.
“Look at these clowns with a great white off the pier,” Gamboa wrote. “So stupid, know your regs. California Department of Fish and Game, here you go.”
The anglers released the great white shark, Hefner wrote, but not before doing damage with the gaff.
“My first thought is, the fisherman needs to be informed on what type of fish they are catching and ignorance is no excuse,” Panis told the Register. “You have to be an educated fisherman.”
Based on the tackle and equipment being used, it appears the fishermen were targeting big sharks and ought to have known better.
According to the Register, this is one of three incidents involving great white sharks off north Orange County beaches in the past week. A fishermen landed an 8-foot great white from the surf at Sunset Beach on Tuesday but promptly released it. On Friday in the same area, a 12-foot great white was spotted by a police helicopter, prompting officials to close a two-mile stretch of beach.