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Two fishermen were arrested after a video surfaced of them slamming a shark against the side of a boat and beheading an octopus off the coast of Florida.

Source: PETA/Youtube

Charles Mora was accused of beheading an innocent octopus, while Michael Bossert was accused of slamming a nurse shark against the boat off the coast of the Florida keys. The two have been charged with a third-degree felony animal cruelty.

The heartbreaking footage shows Bossert pulling a small nurse shark out of a cage before repeatedly smacking the animal until it went limp. The shark was reportedly caught as bycatch. The 52-year-old then apparently carved chunks out of the animal’s flesh to use as bait.

Bycatch – a term used to describe untargeted marine animals like sharks, dolphins, porpoises, and turtles, who often end up being caught by fishing nets – is also a grave problem. The World Wildlife Foundation estimates that bycatch accounts for 40 percent of all global marine catches and that a fisherman will catch an unbelievable 20 pounds of bycatch for every one pound of targeted fish. Every year, around 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises become fatally entangled in fishing gear, while about 250,000 sea turtles are accidentally captured, killed, or injured by fishermen. Other animals that are frequently caught as bycatch include sharks (400,000 per year, to be exact), stingrays, and seals.

Source: Greenpeace USA/Youtube

The video also shows Mora ripping the mantle off of the live octopus. The mantle houses the heart and other organs, and the 30-year-old stood there as if nothing had happened as the tentacles of the octopus continued to squirm after the animal was beheaded.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigator Christopher Mattson’s affidavit wrote in his report that Mora grabbed the octopus while using ‘a violent ripping motion and removed the head and guts’.

“Mr. Mora went about his way and continue to work. He does not pay any attention to the octopus squirming and struggling while suffering in the bin.”

The pair were tricked by activist Kerin Rosen, who told the pair that she was interested in commercial fishing and asked to join them. Rosen recorded the footage on a vessel that supplied Key Fisheries, the largest seller of stone crabs in Florida. Rosen quickly shared the video with PETA.

“Sharks feel agonizing pain when they’re slammed and hacked at, and Florida law prohibits such abuse, just as it prohibits mutilating a dog or cat,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “Sensitive animals endure hideous deaths in the fishing industry every day, and PETA urges diners to go vegan and leave all sea life off the table.”

Choosing to consume fish and other sea animals directly supports abuse like this. According to Counting Animals, “An individual who chooses to take on a vegetarian diet can save over 225 fish and 151 shellfish a year. If just half of the U.S. population (about 150,000,000 individuals) eliminated seafood from their diets, that would mean about 33,750,000,000 fish would remain in the ocean every year.”

Everything nutritious that people believe they are getting from fish can get from other sources. Check out How to Ditch Fish Oil for Plant-Based Sources and Why Flaxseed Oil is Healthier than Fish Oil. Fish often have been exposed to many toxic chemicals like mercury which the consumer then eats when they eat the fish. Fish are also sentient creatures and can feel pain. There is no reason that we need to continue to eat these animals.

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