Photos of a massive tiger shark, which some reports estimated to be as big as 20 feet long, emerged Tuesday on Facebook, prompting outraged messages from social media users. The shark was reportedly caught by a fisherman, identified only as Matthew, near Australia’s Gold Coast last month.
The dead shark is seen aboard a commercial fishing boat off Nine Mile Reef in northern New South Wales, the Daily Mail reported. Social media users condemned the shark's killing while others compared the incident to the killing of Cecil, a protected lion hunted down in a Zimbabwe forest by an American dentist.
The picture was posted on Facebook by Byron Bay resident Geoff Brooks and was widely circulated on the social networking site. The opposition to the shark's killing comes despite some surfers in the region pushing for a shark cull following an increased number of attacks on humans.
A report by the Northern Star, a local newspaper, cited Matthew as saying: "I was the one that took that photo and I was the one that caught that fish," adding: “I caught it fourteen miles off Tweed Heads [a town in New South Wales]."
The report added that Matthew kept only the jaw of the shark as a souvenir but sent the rest of the shark to fish markets.
Karl Goodsell, a spokesman for Positive Change for Marine Life said, according to Northern Star: "Eliminating individual species that are slow to reach sexual maturation and whose numbers are already under extreme pressure from human activities is not only influencing the balance of our oceans, but it is proven to not make any difference on shark/human interactions in all areas where culls have been carried out,” adding: "We need long-term funding for research if we ever want to prevent attacks and have a thorough understanding of our interactions with these animals."
The story has prompted the use of the hashtag #sharklivesmatter, which has reportedly been gaining traction since the photos emerged.
“Seen this a couple of times this morning. What gives anyone the right to kill these creatures in their own territory. We can't just leave alone can we?” Kate Lewoo commented on the photo of the shark shared by Positive Change on its Facebook page.
Iona Parnowski, another user on Facebook, said: “Why is it when people find something extraordinary. Their first thought is 'let's kill it'. A picture would of been more impressive.”
Debbie Groom, another Facebook user, wrote: “If this shark had a name like the recent Cecil the lion - THERE WOULD BE UPROAR !!”