A shark has gone viral in the last week but not under the best of circumstances; as sport fisherman Mark Quartiano reposted an upsetting video that was sent to him by Instagram users @bearjew428 and @MICHAELWENZEL of a shark being hauled behind a boat at an extremely high speed. An action that happened to have coincided with Discovery Channel’s yearly broadcast of rather sensationalist TV program Shark Week.
The men, who carried out this revolting act, are yet to be identified by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. What is clear in the video however, is the joy with which these individuals were executing this barbaric deed.
Mr. Quartiano, alias Mark the Shark, also declared to have received a picture of the already torn-apart shark after having been dragged through the water. He affirmed to feel disappointed and sorry about the situation.
Animal abuse is a broad topic, often taking on cases that include from laboratory animals to circus or zoo animals and from domestic pets to cockfighting or factory farm industry animals. If one would add on to this all human activities that lead to animal cruelty in the wild, it would possibly yield an unending list of atrocities.
According to The Humane Society of the United States “cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies” (The Humane Society of The United States, 2017), which makes it hard to get one’s hands on thorough and accurate statistics. What has been learned so far however is that animal abuse is not bounded to particular economic or social aspects and that it tends to happen in both rural and urban areas alike; and amongst the most reported of cases are dogs, cats, horses and livestock (The Humane Society of The United States, 2017).
In 2016 the Animal Legal Fund completed a report on the U.S. animal protection laws which concluded that the best five states for animals to live in are Illinois, Oregon, Maine, California and Rhode Island; whereas the five worse states for animals are North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Iowa and Kentucky (Animal Legal Defense Fund, 2016). Florida, the state in which this recent outrageous shark cruelty case just occurred is ranked as the 13th best state when speaking of animal protection. These results are the product of reviewing the animal protection laws in all regions as well as assessing the strength of each jurisdiction.
Frequently, abusive acts committed against animals are broken down into either active cruelty acts (acts of commission) or passive cruelty acts (acts of omission). The latter one usually implies a lack of action such as starvation, parasite infestation and the like (Wildlife Rescue, 2016); while active cruelty acts imply deliberate and conscious harm. Behaviors related to active cruelty acts are “often associated with sociopathic behavior and should be taken very seriously” (Wildlife Rescue, 2016).
Correlation between animal cruelty and sociopathic behavior
Studies have shown distressing data such as that “71% of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets” or “that pet abuse occurred in 88% of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children” (The Humane Society of The United States, 2017). A relevant article from the Independent titled What Drives People To Torture Animals stated “when the science of behavioral profiling began to emerge in the 1970s, one of the most consistent findings reported by the FBI was that childhood animal cruelty was a common behavior among serial murderers and rapists” (Griffiths, M., 2014). While in 2002, a research published by the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law concluded that “a history of animal cruelty during childhood was significantly associated with antisocial personality disorder (APD), antisocial personality traits and poly-substance abuse” (Gleyzer, R. et al).
The true nature of sharks
Despite the fact that these amazing beings are most of the times vilified in TV programs such as the aforementioned Shark Water or movies like Jaws; they actually couldn’t be gentler. Authentic documentaries such as Sharkwater or episodes three and four of Tales by Light’s second season, talk passionately and truly about this unique creatures while protagonists engage with them on one-on-one cageless interactions.
There is a fantastic quote that goes:
“This is the most dangerous animal in the world, responsible for millions of deaths every year.
In front of him we can see a great white shark swimming peacefully.”
For 400 million years sharks have been molding Planet Earth; they have been and still are some of the most crucial species for maintaining the health of our oceans. The least we can do now is let them be; the most we can do is to continue striving for securing their protection and well-being.
Your help makes the difference
You are not the only one feeling sad and frustrated about what just happened in Florida. People out there have been mobilizing by starting a petition to bring the three men who abused this shark to justice. The worse thing about leaving this type of acts at the hands of impunity or exemption from punishment is that similar like-minded people will feel with the right of doing similar like-minded acts, while knowing that they will be able to walk freely from the crime scene.
So know that your voice counts and sign and share this petition for the sake of sharks, our oceans and ourselves.
Animal Legal Defense Fund “2016 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings: Comparing Overall Strength & Comprehensiveness” (2016) January 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Rankings-Report-2016-ALDF.pdf
Fortin, J. “Video of Shark, Seemingly Bound and Dragged by a Boat, Under Investigation” (2017) U.S. The New York Times 27 July 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/us/shark-drag-video-florida.html
Gleyzer, R. et al “Animal Cruelty and Psychiatric Disorders” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law 30:257-65 (2003): 257-265. Web. 31 July 2017. http://jaapl.org/content/jaapl/30/2/257.full.pdf
Griffiths, M. “What Drives People To Torture Animals” (2014) Indy/Pulse. Independent. 6 November 2014. Web. 31 July 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/what-drives-people-to-torture-animals-9844721.html
Krol, C. “Horrifying video appears to show shark being dragged from boat at high speed in Florida” (2017) News. The Telegraph, 26 July 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/26/horrifying-video-appears-show-shark-dragged-boat-high-speed/
Nicole, J. “Arrest Men Who Tortured Shark Behind Their Boat” (2017) Petitions. Change.org, July 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. https://www.change.org/p/arrest-men-who-tortured-shark-behind-their-boat?utm_medium=email&utm_source=111093&utm_campaign=petition_update&sfmc_tk=4UBQGrLGGSSs3mW4RAm7zZMNTGTfj1EMtGSHmkvpx0LOYTaYuHrBa8174u92mFqn&j=111093&sfmc_sub=14289906&l=32_HTML&u=21858417&mid=7259882&jb=7
The Humane Society of The United States “Animal Cruelty Facts and Stats” (2017) Issues: Abuse and Neglect. The Humane Society of The United States. 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/facts/animal_cruelty_facts_statistics.html?credit=mr_050616?referrer=https://www.google.com.gt/
Wildlife Rescue “Reasons for Abuse” (2016) Services. Wildlife Rescue. 2016. Web. 31 July 2017. http://wildlife-rescue.org/services/advocacy/animal-abuse/
Featured Photo by Laura College