A decapitated shark head found in California has sparked outrage and an investigation.
Clay Kirksey was out with a friend at the Newport Harbor Shipyard in Orange County on Saturday, when he saw a group of men approaching in a boat. The 16-year-old thought the men looked intoxicated as they were playing with the sharks head.
He told CBS Los Angeles “They were biting it, throwing it around, sticking it on their head. It was brutal to see that they’d treat an animal that beautiful that way,”
Once the men had finished playing with the carcass, they left it on the dock. Kirksey and his friend Madi Makoff took photos of the shark and posted them to Instagram. Makoff told NBC 4 Los Angeles “Just to have people go and cluelessly [sic] kill them is really sad.”
The species of shark has yet to be confirmed, but from the photos many have suggested it could be a great white shark. It is illegal to knowingly kill a great white shark in California as they were added to the California Endangered Species Act in 2013.
Jesse Salem, CEO of the shipyard, identified the boat that brought the shark in. He said the boat owner has been a longtime client who was aware it was illegal to kill white sharks. He told CBS news “We are a recreational marina, and we have several hundred fishing boats on the property. I’ve been there a long time. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Mr. Salem notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Game officials collected fillets and DNA samples from the shark on Wednesday. Once processed, they will be able to determine the species of shark and determine if any laws were broken.
The men who caught the shark claimed it was a mako shark which is legal to catch.
Update 06/09/16: The Los Angeles Times reports DNA test indicate the shark was a Mako. Andrew Hughan, Spokesman of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said “The fisherman was very cooperative.” “He didn’t have anything to hide. Could he have used more discretion and not left the head on the [dock]? Maybe, but he didn’t break any laws.”