SARASOTA, Fla. — Josh Kitchel grew up on the waters of Sarasota Bay and boating in the Gulf.
“This is our passion,” Kitchel said, pointing towards the beautiful water and sunset over Sarasota Bay.
So when he and others found video on social media showing a shark being pulled at full speed behind a fishing boat, the images sparked strong emotions.
“I was angry, very angry,” said Kitchel.
“I see kids really with absolutely zero respect. It’s hard to defend any of the actions in that video,” said St. Petersburg charter boat Captain Ryan Harrington.
He says many of his clients, especially those from up north, have a fascination with catching a shark. And while shark fishing is perfectly legal, he says there’s a more ethical way to take sealife than what is seen in the video.
“I haven’t seen any comments yet where people are OK with what happened,” he said.
FWC is investigating the case and looking for the individuals spotted in the video posted on social media. But those in the fishing community say they already know who posted the images online and say it may not be the first time, although FWC has yet to confirm whether other posts are part of their investigation.
“There’s a Facebook page called 'Save the Tarpon.' and sure enough, you can scroll through the Facebook page and you’ll see him everywhere,” said Kitchel of the man he believes posted the shark video.
Whoever is responsible, many say the behavior seen in the video needs to come to an end.
“Eventually they’re going to mess with the wrong agency, and it seems like this one has sparked enough for someone to do something,” said Harrington.
“These captains and pride-taking anglers out here aren’t going to just let this slide,” said Kitchel of the behavior seen in the video. “We’re not going to keep our mouths shut, and I hope he reaps full punishment for what he has done.”