Florida Teen Who Hid Shark in Bushes Has Charges Dropped
Last week, we told you about the Pompano Beach teen who hooked a protected sandbar shark at the Pompano Beach Pier and then tried to hide it in the bushes so he wouldn't get in trouble.
But, thanks to the power of science and looking at things, it appears that the charges against the teen have now been dropped.
Turns out, the shark he hooked was not a sandbar but, rather, a blacktip, which, unlike the sandbar, is totally legal to fish out of Florida waters.
When reached for comment, a blacktip said, "WAIT A MINUTE, WUT?"
Sandbar shark numbers have been on a steady decline over the years, thanks mostly to the demand for their meat and, particularly, their fins.
Shark fin soup is something you'll regularly find in grocery stores in Asia.
So Florida made it illegal to fish a sandbar out of the water in 2009, making them a protected species.
The teen caught the shark the day after Christmas and then hid the dead fish in some bushes. But because shrubbery doesn't usually reek of dead fish flesh, the kid was eventually found out by the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The FWC released the photo to the media after the teen was charged:
But, according to the Sun Sentinel, shark scientists from the University of Miami, FSU, and other places where scientists work, realized one glaring thing about the photo: That's no sandbar.
One of the scientists contacted the FWC and pointed out that the shark in the picture was, indeed, a blacktip and not a sandbar.
The agency then announced that the charges were dropped, and the teen was no longer in hot water for killing a protected species shark
The FWC then issued a statement via email, giving the ol' sharks are super hard to ID what with their fins and shark-y shape and all explanation.
"According to our officers, sharks are very difficult to identify, and this particular shark had features similar to that of a sandbar shark," agency spokeswoman Katie Johnson wrote in an email. "Since the subject involved tried to hide the shark, it led responding officers to believe he wasn't supposed to have that shark."
So now the teen is free to go fishing sharks out of the ocean and throwing their carcasses into bushes willy-nilly throughout Florida. As long as it's not a sandbar.