Florida anglers are being sharply criticized after a video of them free-gaffing a Mako shark off South Florida this week was made public on the Internet.

In the video, which was uploaded to Youtube and also displayed on the website of a Florida TV station (can be seen below), the anglers can be seen trying to gaff a free-swimming shark. The shark ventured close to the boat after being attracted to a swordfish that the anglers had alongside their vessel.


Since no rods or reels appear to have been used by the anglers as they captured the 748-pound Mako shark, they may have acted in violation of state and federal law. “I’d hazard that I’m not the first to pick up on these fine points of the law but if the video does indeed tell the full tale then these laws need to be enforced,” said Luke Tipple, a marine biologist and director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative. “If however the fishermen can provide video evidence of them using PRIMARY tackle (i.e. hook and line) to initialize the capture then they would be within their rights to have landed the shark. If this turns out to be the case then I will instead turn this report into a cautionary tale of how the media should be more responsible in reporting on shark harvests, particularly when dealing with species considered by some to be globally threatened.”