Authorities in Australia are hunting for a group of men who were filmed taunting a great white shark, after video of the incident found its way online.
The clip was posted to Facebook, according to the Daily Mail, and it depicts the men attempting to bait the white shark to their boat while drinking and fishing at Blanche Harbor near Port Augusta. The maximum penalty for harassing or molesting a great white, a protected species in Australia, is $10,000.
None of the boaters show their faces in the video, though Fisheries officials are attempting to identify them. In the clip, they bait the shark with a piece of meat, attached to a fishing line. The group jeer and laugh hysterically as the white shark breaches the surface of the water to take the bait, before the predator approaches their boat.
“Oh my god… how big is that?” one man wonders.
“Here he goes, he’s gonna grab it,” another interjects.
Shark taunted with a piece of meat. Fishermen face a fine of $10,000 if found guilty of harassing a great white. pic.twitter.com/ry0vy1v12F
— Phoebe Bowden (@PhoebeBowden) January 13, 2015
There are exceptions to the law for attracting white sharks, such as those made for the booming cage diving industry in Port Lincoln, as the ABC reports. Shark cage operator Matt Walle noted, however, that there are limited licenses available, and that the practice is heavily regulated.
“The attraction of great white sharks is a regulated industry and licensed operators go through stringent processes to attract sharks in a right and appropriate way, and this [the men in the video] sort of behavior largely moves away from that,” he said. “Pretty much everything in this video is outside our legal operating conditions and yeah, definitely worthy of being persecuted.”
Last year, a viral photo of a great white taken from a cage diving operation in South Africa sparked controversy, igniting a conversation about the potential harm that the practice could inflict on white sharks. As the Inquisitr previously reported, however, Dr. Greg Skomal, a Senior Marine Fisheries Biologist with the state of Massachusetts, asserted that the greater danger would be training white sharks to associate human beings with food.
In a statement addressing the footage, the Fisheries Department warned that any boaters who encounter a great white should take precautions to avoid interfering with the shark.
[Image via the Daily Mail]