The Internet has spoken on shark-dragging.
A Change.org petition calling for charges against a group of Gulf Coast men who recorded themselves dragging a battered shark behind a speeding boat has collected more than a quarter- million signatures. Organizers plan to present the petition to local State Attorney Ed Brodsky on Monday, said spokesman A.J. Walton.
The video, posted by local guide Mark the Shark Quartiano this month after the makers messaged it to him on Instagram, shows three men laughing and pointing as the shark flops in the boat’s wake. One man asks if the shark is dead yet.
Authorities investigating the video have not confirmed the identities of the men involved, but online commenters quickly tagged one, Michael Wenzel, as part of a group of Gulf Coast anglers who had been previously investigated for disturbing posts that show them shooting at fish and grabbing seabirds. Federal wildlife agents closed the case without filing charges after concluding they could not nail down when the events occurred.
The petition calls for the men to get jail time, serve 1,000 hours of community service and have their fishing licenses permanently revoked.
Any “delay in action is causing the public to lose faith in the justice system,” the petition reads. “We expect to see these men arrested for crimes they have committed.”
In a Facebook post, organizers said authorities declined to meet with them but agreed to accept the petition at Brodsky’s Bradenton office at noon.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich