NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Eric Carey, the Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) on Wednesday expressed anger, disgust and sadness after a video of a Bahamian man shooting a beached shark at least three times in the head went viral.
The video shows what appears to be a nurse shark beached on the sand.
In the video, men with Bahamian accents express shock over the size of the shark while a female is heard telling the male shooter, whom she referred to as ‘Josh’, that he was standing too close as he took aim to shoot. The man then shoots the shark in the head at least three times with what appears to be a rifle as blood from the shark seeps into the water.
“If he isn’t dead now, you’ll would have brained him,” one guy said as others could be heard swearing in the background.
Carey said while Bahamians are killing sharks, the value of shark tourism in The Bahamas is worth at least $115,000,000. He said that from a tourism perspective, killing off sharks in Bahamian waters is an absolute waste of a very valuable resource.
Carey also expressed that while it is understood that Bahamians still have an irrational fear of sharks, many tourists visit The Bahamas to swim and interact with sharks because they don’t fear the animal.
“People come here to see sharks, people come here and have better experiences because we have these large predators, they are absolutely important in keeping the ecosystem healthy,” Carey expressed.
The BNT Executive Director said the movie ‘Jaws’ portrayed sharks to be intentional killing machines which has left many Bahamians in fear of sharks, especially those that are not educated about the animal.
Meanwhile, a statement released last night from BNT further outlined that it is evident from the comments in the viral video as well as the discussions that followed, that more education about the regulations regarding sharks in The Bahamas and shark behavior are needed.
The BNT said in 2011, sharks became fully protected in The Bahamas, turning the 243,000 square miles of the Bahamian archipelago into a shark sanctuary. The BNT said it is therefore illegal to catch or harm any shark in The Bahamas.
According to the BNT, The Bahamas is known as the ‘shark diving capital of the world’ and it is estimated that sharks bring in around $114 million dollars every year in The Bahamas.
“People from around the world travel to The Bahamas to dive with sharks,” the BNT said. “Tiger sharks are at the top of the bucket list for many people, and places like Tiger beach in Grand Bahama are famous for their populations of these large predators.
The BNT said because of the Tiger Shark’s reputation as a species that attacks people, they are a target of ‘population control’ efforts in some places, which is a practice that is not supported, especially not in The Bahamas where they are fully protected by law.
“As a result, their numbers are declining, and they have been listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as near-threatened,” the BNT said.
“Like many sharks, these apex predators play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of marine life that humans benefit from, especially in The Bahamas.
“Although these sharks certainly have the ability to cause harm, they rarely even acknowledge people in the water.
“A common reaction to such a large predator within an area frequently used by people is to spear it, either to kill it or drive it away. This is not just a local reaction, but rather an international one.”
As for the video circulating on social media, the BNT said this shark appeared to have been caught and brought to land before it was killed and in this case, those responsible for this act should be prosecuted.