Days after a Franciscana dolphin was pulled from the ocean and paraded around by a man for selfies, a similar incident has emerged of a man being filmed taking photos with a helpless shark after dragging it out of the ocean in Florida.

The unidentified man was seen pulling the poor animal out of the water and pinning it down for people to take pictures. Despite the shark writhing around underneath his arms, the man continued to hold it down and even lifted its tail to get a better angle.

After this incident, and the Franciscana dolphin incident, we explore why people feel that it is okay to strip marine life from the ocean and treat them like objects:

An obsession with animals as decoration

From bathroom windowsills littered with dried up starfish and triton shells, to soi-disant tropical aquariums full of rare fish, we have an obsession with using marine animals for decoration. Perhaps their unfamiliarity attracts us to them, their near-alien appearance that, for some reason, goes well with our pale-blue bathroom wallpaper. This objectification of living creatures and using them for house decorations is the potential foundation of the feeling that it is okay to use marine animals as props in pictures, or to be pulled from the sea.

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A photographic opportunity like no other

Selfies with washed up whales on beaches, or macro shots of distressed seahorses up close appear desirable for some nowadays. It’s a photographic opportunity like no other, to capture a glimpse of this alien world that few ever get the chance to. However to get some of these shots, sometimes people may manipulate marine life; kicking up seahorses to capture the creature with a clear background, or prodding an octopus to snap it face-on. The desire to capture something beautifully bizarre may cause the photographer to momentarily forget the harm that they are potentially causing to the animal, completely unaware of the consequences of their actions.

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A complete disregard for marine life

Dragging a marine animal from the ocean and leaving it to suffocate, or overheat, on the golden sand of some “paradise” beach may cause your hair to stand on end. In a day and age where any display of cruelty to animals is a publicised sin, it comes as quite a shock that anybody would ever feel that it is okay to do such a thing. A lack of education on the endangered status of many marine species, and a complete ignorance to animal life, is most likely the cause.

All we can continue to do is spread awareness of the importance of marine life, and hope that these acts do not continue in the future.