Shark Abuse leads to arrest

Shark Abuse Case: Man Charged, Sentenced In Shark Death

Shark abuse in South Africa has led to the arrest of Leon Bekker under the Marine Living Resources Act No. 18 of 1998.according to Discovery News.

Bekker, who lives in South Africa’s Western Cape pleaded guilty to charges of violating sections of the Marine Living Resources Act No. 18 of 1998, Discovery News reported.

He was charged with offenses such as: Fishing for, attempting to kill, disturbing, harassing, chumming or attracting using bait or other means, being in possession of a white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) or parts from said shark without a permit.

When Bekker was sentenced, he was given two choices: Pay a $13,000 fine or spend a year in jail.

Last year, in front of a group of onlookers, Bekker hooked the great white shark, and, two other men dragged the shark up onto the rocks. The men slid their hands into the shark’s gills and used a large hook to drag it up on the beach, Discovery News reported.

The shark languished on the beach for 16 minutes while Bekker was having photographs taken of himself with the creature.

After being contacted by worried onlookers, local marine biologist Ryan Johnson arrived at the scene. Johnson realized that the shark was close to death and told him that what he was doing was illegal. Johnson, who is also a shark conservationist, told Bekker that he was going to return the shark to the water.

In a press release, Johnson, who is also the founder of Oceans Society, wrote that photos from Bekker’s camera showed that it took the men at least five minutes to drag the shark higher up onto the rocks. He spent several minutes posing for photographs with the shark, Ryan wrote.

In court, Johnson explained that there are only about 3,500 white sharks left in the world. Killing even one of these creatures is disastrous for their conservation, he said.

In this case of shark abuse, it’s unlikely that the creature survived, Johnson said. It had been out of the water for too long and was injured too severely.

Great white sharks are even more endangered than tigers, according to Ronald O’Dor, a senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life. The Census is an international collaboration that’s in the process of cataloging marine life, according to The Guardian.

“The estimated total population of great white sharks in the world’s oceans is actually less than the number of tigers,” O’Dor said.

Fortunately, great whites will receive a helping hand in California, where they have recently attained protected status.

In 2007, analyzing records from fisheries and research vessels that spanned the 1970’s to 2005, marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Canada discovered that shark populations are in a steep decline.

Populations of tiger sharks and scalloped hammerheads have plummeted by more than 97 percent since the mid-1980’s. Tiger sharks and scalloped hammerheads had declined more than 97% since the mid-1980s. Bull sharks and smooth hammerheads fared worse–in the east coast of the U.S., their numbers plummeted by 99 percent, according to the story in The Guardian.

Will shark abuse bring about the extinction of the great white shark? What do you think?

[Image via ShutterStock]