Something terrible has happened to our society. We’ve become more obsessed not only with capturing “Instagram-worthy” moments but trying to create them regardless of the expense they might cause to others. We put our phones up at concerts and block the views of those trying to enjoy the show behind us, we’ll let our food (and our friend’s food) get cold so that we can show the world what we’re eating, and we take innocent animals out from their natural habitats all for a selfish photo opportunity.

Nowadays, it seems like every other week there is a group of individuals who decide that nature and all of its inhabitants are there merely for entertainment. Sometimes it’s one person, like this woman who decided wrangling this swan out of the lake for a photo was necessary. Other times it’s a whole group of people like these folks who grabbed a sea turtle out of the ocean and decided to mount it because that’s totally what you should be teaching children about interacting with other living beings. And then there’s the most recent bout of idiocy – a group of tourists that pulled a blue shark out of the ocean for selfies. Oh wait, it gets worse. The lifeguards on duty not only allowed this to happen, they joined in!

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That’ right. In Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, near the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a group of tourists and a group of lifeguards didn’t just stumble upon a beached shark, they dragged the poor marine animal out to shore themselves! 

Shark Idiots 1

One individual even decided to have his own photo shoot with the shark by lifting the dying animal’s tail in one hand and posing. 

Shark Idiots 2

If you’d like to see the stupidity unravel in real time, here is a video captured by beachgoers at the time of the event. 

 

 

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This may not seem like a huge deal, after all, it’s just one shark out of hundreds, if not thousands, in the ocean, right? Wrong. The egotistical and cruel behavior exhibited in this one incident is representative of a much larger problem with how humans interact and coexist with marine life, especially sharks. Every year, over 100 million sharks are ripped from the waters either as bycatch from the commercial fishing industry or for the shark fin trade.

And while there are many people who are afraid of sharks and may think “well, the fewer sharks there are the better,” the reality of the matter is that sharks are vital for the health of the ocean and in turn ours. Sharks are apex predators and play an important role in maintaining the health of our ecosystems. If we continue on the path we are on, eventually all sharks will be gone, causing a massive domino effect that reaches all the way back to humans. Right now it may seem like sharks and humans are vastly different and the demise of these creatures could in no way affect us. But it can. And the sooner we start treating sharks as the important animals they are, the sooner we can start the path towards a more sustainable future for sharks AND humans.

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All image source: Facebook