WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando / YouTube
A 33-year-old man from Melbourne, Florida is facing criminal charges for allegedly beating a shark with a hammer and then returning it to the ocean in December 2022.
The State Attorney’s Office said the incident was captured on video and sparked an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The FWC recommended charges against the man in January and said it would be up to the state if they wanted to file the charges. Eventually, the State Attorney’s Office filed two misdemeanor charges against him and he’s been summoned to court.
According to the FWC’s website, lemon sharks are a protected species in the state of Florida, and fishing for them in state waters is prohibited.
The man is facing charges of violating restrictions on possession of prohibited species, failure to return prohibited species unharmed, and violation of prohibition against harvest, landing, or sale of sharks.
The incident took place at Bicentennial Beach Park in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida. Two people witnessed the man’s actions and contacted authorities.
An FWC investigator responded to the beach and interviewed a man who matched the witnesses’ descriptions. The man admitted to deputies that he struck the shark and released it back into the water.
The investigator was unable to locate the shark due to the tide, and it is unknown if the shark survived or not.
Shark fishing is legal in Florida, but there are rules on the type of sharks that can be caught and the number of fish that can be claimed.
Lemon sharks are among 28 protected sharks in the state. When fishing from the shore, anyone 16 and older, including those 65 and older, must pass an online course and obtain a permit.