Sharks are in trouble. Approximately 73 million are killed each year, and as a top predator of the sea they are vital to the ocean ecosystem. While some celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio and January Jones, have joined conservationists in the fight for their survival, Rosie O’Donnell seems to think this is a laughing matter.
Photos of O’Donnell posing with dead and bloody sharks have hit the media and are sparking outrage. According to The Sun Sentinel, Rosie and family went on several fishing expeditions with Mark “The Shark” Quartiano over the past two to three years off the coast of southern Florida. Quartiano recently posted a photo to his website of O’Donnell and her kids with a dead hammerhead shark hanging on his boat. The response was quick and angry, with comments continuing to fly in to O’Donnell’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Conservation organizations have responded as well, among them the Australian Anti-Shark Finning Alliance, Planet Ocean Alliance and Shark Savers, according to The Daily Mail. The killing of hammerhead sharks was recently banned in Florida within three miles of the state’s shores, but only into effect on January 1st of this year. However, conservationists say that while O’Donnell’s fishing trips were legal, she is sending the wrong message. “Right now sharks are the most endangered animals around. This is basically an endorsement. It sends the message that it’s an OK activity. And this is not an activity that we want celebrities endorsing,” said marine conservationist Erik Brush.
O’Donnell is responding via twitter to the much talked about photo. She wrote, “i have seen sharkwater – i love the ocean – i am on it daily in miami – chill people – really – my family fishes.”
Meanwhile, Quartiano says O’Donnell is “conservation-minded,” and adds “We’ve caught a lot of fish and released a lot of fish. We’ve also caught fish for eating and trophies.” As for the actress and comedian herself, she seems to think the reaction to the photos is funny. Quartiano says “She’s amused by it. She wants me to go on her show.” I guess I don’t get the joke.