Beachgoers stunned over fisherman's 'distressing' act with shark

The man was seen catching and allegedly killing an endangered grey nurse shark, an illegal and fineable offence in Australia.

Left: Man holding dead grey nurse shark from tail at Terrigal. Right: Dead grey nurse shark on rocks at Terrigal.
A man was seen pulling an endangered grey nurse shark from the water and appearing to celebrate his catch. Source: Supplied

Stunned beachgoers have called out a man's act with a juvenile grey nurse shark after he was seen pulling it out of the water and allegedly killing it.

A video showing the "distressing" scenes has been circulating on social media and among locals in the NSW Central Coast region where the endangered and protected species are known to aggregate. It shows an unidentified man standing barefoot on the rocks at Terrigal Haven dangling the shark from its tail.

According to witnesses, the man "hauled it over the rocks" after pulling the shark from the water, with the force thought to have killed the animal. In the video, the man appears to brag about the "big f***ing grey nurse" he'd caught and celebrated with a joyful "woo". It's believed to be a young female.

Katie, an underwater photographer from the area, said she was sent the shocking video on Saturday. It had been circulating among her swim club who frequent The Haven, where the incident occurred.

"It's pretty gruesome, he knew what he was doing," she told Yahoo News Australia. "It's sad to see people are so ignorant to their local environment and the part we all play in taking care of it..."

"From the video, the guy clearly knows what he has caught," she continued. "And by the sound of what he says and what he does, had no intention to return it to the water."

Shark population dwindling, calls to close areas to fishing

The east coast grey nurse shark population is considered critically endangered, while on the west coast the population is vulnerable. Lawrence Chlebeck, a marine scientist at Humane Society International said "to catch or harm these sharks is strictly prohibited".

"The latest studies have estimated the East Coast population as somewhere between 1500 and 3000 individuals — the loss of just a single animal can have an impact on the survival of the species here in NSW," Chlebeck said.

"While the motivation behind this incident can be debated, grey nurse sharks are often harmed unintentionally by recreational fishing, which is why aggregation sites such as these must be closed to fishing, to allow our grey nurse sharks to breed and give birth to their young in safety.

"If we don’t protect the critical habitats of our grey nurse sharks, we risk losing them forever."

Left: Beach and rocks at Terrigal Haven. Right: Instagram screenshot showing man holding dead shark.
NSW Central Coast locals were outraged after seeing the viral video of the shark catch. Source: Google/supplied

Large fines for catching endangered species in NSW

Another local Nada said she reported the incident to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) but confirmed the man seen in the video has yet to be identified.

"It should be declared an aggregation site which will bring the area closer to being protected. It should be a no-take zone," she said.

A spokesperson confirmed DPI received the report on Thursday and are "still investigating the matter". They also encouraged anyone with information to come forward.

According to DPI "it is illegal to catch and keep, buy, sell, possess or harm grey nurse sharks (or any other threatened species in NSW) without a specific permit, licence, or other appropriate approval."

"On the spot fines of $500 apply for interfering with a threatened species (such as grey nurse sharks), with maximum court-imposed penalties of $110,000 and/or two years imprisonment," the spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo.

Earlier this year, a fisherman was seen illegally spearing and killing a beloved blue groper. An investigation led to the man receiving $800 worth of fines.

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