• Officials identify men in video showing shark being dragged by boat

    By: WFTV Web Staff


    Officials with the Sarasota Slam fishing tournament announced Tuesday on the event's Facebook page that they have reported to authorities the identities of several individuals captured on video dragging a shark behind a speeding boat.

    The video has been viewed almost 700,000 times on WFTV's Facebook page and has drawn criticism from countless people on social media.

    The man piloting the boat in the video can be seen wearing a Sarasota Slam T-shirt and tournament officials were quick to distance the event from the video and condemn those involved.

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    "The Sarasota Slam is in no way affiliated with the despicable behavior in the video on social media," tournament organizers wrote on the group's Facebook page. "We do not want to give those individuals any more attention.

    Event organizers told Channel 9 that the men have been banned from the event.

    "We are a respected tournament (that) reports our catches to NOAA and we will be tagging marlin for The Billfish Foundation this year," a representative said.

    Watch the video of the shark below:

    Neither the group nor investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have publicly identified the individuals in the video.

    FWC confirmed that an investigation has been opened into the individuals in the video, and where and when it might have been recorded.

    Rob Klepper, an FWC spokesman, said the agency takes the incident very seriously.

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    "It is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident," Klepper said. "The lack of respect shown for our precious natural resources shown in this video is disheartening and disturbing, and is not representative of conservation-minded anglers around the world."

    It's unclear if the shark was alive while it was being dragged behind the boat, but experts said it would be virtually impossible for the animal to survive behind pulled by the tail at such a high rate of speed.

    Channel 9 has received names of the people who might be involved. FWC wouldn't confirm them.

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