Photos of a decapitated shark on a pier in Southern California sparked an online backlash over what may or may not have been an illegal activity.
Shark conservationist Madi Makoff’s social media post showing a decapitated shark appeared on Sunday, sparking a viral reaction and leading to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) investigation.
14-year-old Makoff is a youth ambassador with shark activist Ocean Ramsey. While the post identifies the shark as a white shark, which is protected, the fisherman that took the creature from the sea claims it was actually a mako shark. It is legal to take up to two mako sharks per day, as detailed on the CDFW website.
CDFW spokesperson Carrie Wilson told Breitbart News that the CDFW has not seen the shark, but that it does have the photos.
“This is still is an ongoing investigation. We’ve contacted the fisherman. He’s stated that the shark was a Mako shark. We’re just trying to determine for sure what it was. Pictures appear that it is a white shark. We took DNA samples from the filets that were provided by the fisherman who took the shark. We took blood samples from the boat and dock.”
Wilson confirmed that white sharks are protected, and that if testing reveals that the shark in question was a white shark, there “potentially could be a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.”
White sharks “may not be taken or possessed at any time,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The social media post identified the location of the beheaded shark as the Newport Beach pier. Lifeguards later confirmed that the photo did not match that pier, according to the Los Angeles Times. That brought question sas to where the photo had actually been taken. Wilson said, “What I have heard is that it was the Lido peninsula area of Newport harbor.”
Wilson said of DNA testing: “Samples are being sent to the federal wildlife lab. I have no idea when those results will come back.”
She stressed that the investigation is ongoing “because no officials were there to see it.”
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