Florida man's shark 'selfie' sparks outrage

A Florida man has sparked a storm of Internet outrage for dragging a small shark ashore and pinning it down while posing for photographs.

In a second highly publicized run-in between humans and sea creatures in the last couple of weeks, the Internet has erupted over a video that shows a Florida man dragging a small shark out of the Atlantic Ocean to take pictures with it.

The video was posted on Facebook by Ashleigh Walters, a TV anchor from local NBC affiliate WPTV. It shows a beachgoer dragging a writhing shark by its tail away from the water on Palm Beach, pinning it down on the sand, and posing for a few photos in front of a small group of people wielding their smartphones.

The video then shows another man dragging the shark back into the water to release it.

Responses to the video on Facebook were filled with outrage, either over the perceived harm done to the shark, or because people were overlooking the clues in the video that indicated the shark had already been caught on a fishing line. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows the harvesting of some types of sharks.

The shark selfie incident grabbed so much attention because it comes just a couple of weeks after a similar event in Argentina ended tragically for a young Franciscana dolphin that died after it was pulled from the water by beachgoers in Santa Terisita.

Images posted online by Hernan Coria showed a crowd gathering around a man who pulled the rare species of dolphin out of the water and carried it into the crowd allowing beachgoers to stroke the dolphin and pose for pictures with it.

According to a video of the incident, the crowd then left the dolphin on the beach, where it appeared to be motionless.

The incident in Argentina drew criticism from wildlife groups concerned about the risks of taking selfies with wild animals.

“If you see a Franciscana dolphin, help return it to the water. These situations can lead to death,” an Argentine Wildlife Foundation said in a tweet that included a picture of people petting the dolphin.

“The Franciscana, like other dolphins, cannot remain long above water. It has a very thick and greasy skin that provides warmth, so the weather quickly causes dehydration and death,” said the group.

Around the world, public officials are starting to take the selfie craze more seriously warning people in pamphlets and posters about the danger of taking pictures with wild animals in order to prevent unnecessary and tragic deaths, both of wild animals and of people.

A Spanish man was killed by a bull at the annual bull running festival in August when he turned his back to the charging creature, arms stretched out in front of himself, in order to capture the perfect shot.

And in Denver, Colo., Waterton Canyon park was closed for weeks in fall because too many selfie enthusiasts were putting their lives in danger to get snapshots with a particularly high population of bears.

"We've actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet ... " Brandon Ransom, a park official told the New York Daily News.

The European Union in June proposed to criminalize social media posts with pictures of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Rome's Trevi Fountain, where people have endangered themselves by going to great lengths to capture awe-inspiring shots. And India earlier this month implemented a "no selfie zone" at the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival, fearing they may cause stampedes.

Russia launched a selfie education campaign in July when it released an illustrated booklet that warns of the perils of climbing electricity towers to snap photos, or standing in front of an oncoming train, or in front of a wild animal.

Russian ministry official Yelena Alekseyeva told reporters at a campaign launch event, "Our booklet reminds you of how to take a safe selfie, so it is not the last one you will ever take."

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