Baby Shark Used As Bong And People Are Outraged

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WARNING: Graphic and possibly distressing photos in this article.

Sharks have been making headlines a lot in 2019, from finding new species of sharks (in mud pits to fish markets) to whale sharks having more green in their diet than once thought. And this may seem like another “dead shark” story… but it isn’t because of what fishermen did to this shark after it was caught.

A still screen shot of the footage of a man smoking through the body of a dead shark that was featured on the Fried Fishing Australia group.Source: Facebook

The video, posted to the Australian Facebook group Fried Fishing, shows a man holding the lifeless body of a small shark, with a pipe sticking out of its head and under a one its fins. The fisherman, identified as Billy Brislane. then lights up the makeshift bong, sucks in the smoke, and laughs, all while listening to the hit song “Baby Shark.” The Facebook group, which boasts 24k followers, is known for posting pictures of what Brislane and his friends have caught, including photos of himself after catching five bull sharks in one day at the Macleay River. The tagline for the group is “fried fishing, stupid s***, banter about other fishermen.”

As one can guess, the video pulled in thousands of views in a short amount of time. There was outrage on the internet when the video went viral. “Humans need to do better than this. Sharks are not trophies, toys, or bongs. I can’t believe this is even real. Shame on this person and anyone who thinks this is even remotely okay.” said one Twitter user.

“This must be one of the most shocking uses I have every seen of an animal on social media. We’ve seen people trying to get a chimapanzee high on Instagram, and now a fisherman using a shark as a pipe/bong. Losing hope for humanity sometimes,” commented another.

“What happened to you to make you think this is ok? Have some respect for the environment that brings you so much pleasure. This is not normal behaviour dude.” another wrote.

A still screen shot of the footage of a man smoking through the body of a dead shark that was featured on the Fried Fishing Australia group.Source: Facebook

Mr. Brislane defended the video, which has now taken down, by saying the shark was “caught by my mate when we were fishing for mangrove jacks on Friday. After two nights left in the icebox, I came up with the idea. There is no possible way it was alive.” This follow-up post also stated that the police visited him, and the Facebook group clarified the substance being smoked wasn’t illicit drugs but was legal tobacco and he would take a drug test to prove it. “I just want to say thanks to the bunch of sooks who have complained to the point of the police visiting. Honestly, I quit,” said Brislane in a message.

Not everyone was offended by the posted video, though. Hundreds on Facebook came to the defense of the fisherman, saying he had every right to do what he wanted with what was ultimately his catch (and was a very-dead shark).  “The shark is dead though, I don’t get why it offends people so much,” one wrote. “Can’t have a joke about anything anymore,” another quipped.

Brislane has since announced that he must “walk away from social media” as his mental health “is way more important,” and that he has had a slew of abusive messages “as far as to death threats.” Some are happy he will no longer be posting, with one person commenting, “Thank god. No one wants to see your garbage.” Another had a suggestion for a final video: “Final video? Light one up through a stingray.”

A bull shark swimming.Luis Javier Sandoval / Getty Images

From what we can see from the grainy video, the small shark seems to be a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), also known as a River Whaler, Freshwater Whaler, or Swan River Whaler. Adults can get up to 11 feet in length and up to 500 lbs in weight. Worldwide, their home range includes the coastlines of tropical and subtropical oceans. In Australia, they are found from the central New South Wales coast, to across the northern coast to Perth, Western Australia. Bull sharks are infamous for being a species that can swim far into fresh water for extended periods, and it is here where sometimes it breeds. The females will normally give birth in estuaries and river mouths, where the baby sharks (pups) can stay in the river for up to 5 years. They enjoy inshore, murky water and here they dine on a variety of animals including fish, sharks, rays, turtles, birds, mollusks, crustaceans, and dolphins.

While what is shown in the video is not technically illegal, bull sharks have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species™ as Near Threatened due to their home range including estuarine and freshwater areas making the species “more vulnerable to human impacts and habitat modification.” Bull sharks are not the only freshwater swimming sharks in Australia. However recent research out of Australia shows that shark numbers in Queensland have declined dramatically for some species in the past 55 years.

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