Authorities in Florida have called on two people to appear in court after a tiger shark was dragged up a river by its tail and subsequently killed.
The shark was reportedly tied to a boat in the Chassahowitzka River in Florida’s Citrus County.
Local news outlet Chronicle Online reported the animal was killed, citing Florida game officials and social media posts.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (FWC) told Newsweek it was aware of “the incident that took place over the weekend on the Chassahowitzka River involving a tiger shark” and had issued notices for two individuals involved, who were not named, to appear in court “for taking a prohibited species of shark.”
“The two subjects currently have a Citrus County court date,” the FWC added.
David Shiffman, a marine conservation biologist and postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, told Newsweek: “Tiger sharks are a species of conservation concern and are protected in Florida waters. It’s illegal to even ‘land’ them—take them out of the water—and killing them is illegal.
“The way this shark was handled is unusual, even weird. But this is an extremely clear violation of fishing regulations.”
Jamie Causey, an alleged witness to the incident, told Fox 13 she had seen the boat come in with the shark tied to it. She claimed onlookers then began “holding it in different positions, taking pictures.”
“It is sickening that there’s people like this, they’re boasting about it,” she said.
FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker told Chronicle Online: “The FWC takes this very seriously and is grateful to everyone who reported this incident. Tiger sharks are prohibited from harvest in state waters.”
Tiger sharks are common throughout Florida and are present worldwide in tropical and warm-temperate waters. They can reach a maximum size of between 15 and 18 feet in length and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. They are estimated to live for 30 years or more, according to the FWC.
The animals are named for the distinctive vertical lines that can be seen down the side of their body.
Tiger sharks are often hunted for their fins, skin, and flesh, and may be susceptible to fishing pressure due to low population rates. They are also second only to great white sharks in attacking humans, according to National Geographic.