TAMPA (FOX 13) - It's a video that's gone viral for all the wrong reasons. The clip shows a boat dragging a shark through the water at a high rate of speed. The video surfaced online in the last few days, but the original source was not immediately clear.
Now, Florida Fish and Wildlife wants to talk to the people in that video. Four names have been shared online, identifying the people in the video as being from the Tampa Bay area. But, at this point, we aren't identifying them, since no charges have been filed.
The video shows the shark flopping through the water like a rag doll while the engine is at full throttle. It's hard to tell if the shark is alive or dead. "Look, he's almost already dead," says one of the men in the video.
The men in the boat seem to be enjoying the sight. But, the 10-second clip, viewed hundreds of thousands of times, is sparking outrage online and disgust within the local fishing community.
"He's pulling a shark on the boat behind it like that? They've got no respect for the animal, I've seen that already," said fisherman Edward Allen.
"It's just ridiculous that anyone would do anything like that," said fisherman Glenn Underwood.
It's no joke to FWC. The agency's Public Information Coordinator Rob Klepper issued a statement saying, "The FWC takes this very seriously and is currently investigating this incident. We are also attempting to identify the individuals in the video and where it took place."
“It is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident,” Klepper noted.
For the Florida Aquarium's Associate Curator, it's hard to watch. "I see like, an animal lynching. It's deplorable," said Eric Hovland. "It makes my stomach flip."
Hovland's passion is sharks - caring for them, keeping them healthy and keeping them alive.
"It's flipping and tossing around," Hovland said of the video. "It looks like it's even been roped by the tail. I mean this just wasn't hooked on a line and accidentally dragged. This was purposeful and tragic."
He said it was likely a Black Tip or Sand Bar Shark - one of the dozens of species swimming around Florida's coasts. If there's any consolation, he said, it's that most commenting on the video find it unacceptable.
"It's a sad day that this is what we are talking about during Shark Week," Hovland said "We should be celebrating sharks. They are not our toys, they are not to be abused, they are to be celebrated. They're wonderful and they are valuable creatures and they deserve our respect."
According to the agency, anyone with information is asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. They say you can remain anonymous.