HONOLULU - An online video that shows young men hooking a Big Island tiger shark is sparking outrage among people who say it appears the men were harassing or even torturing the animal for entertainment.
The YouTube video is titled "Catching a 12-14 Ft Tiger Shark!"
The clip shows men pulling a shark toward a rocky shoreline with a rope. Someone in the background laughs as the shark thrashes in the water.
An explanation posted with the video said: "Big Rope + Big Cable + Big Hook + Big Bait = LIVE ACTION With A Big SHARK!!!!! yeeeeeeeeee What U Kno About Dat!?. 'Catch And Release.' "
Oriana Kalama of the Maui nonprofit Ocean Defenders was put off that people would try to hurt a shark for their own entertainment and promotion on social media.
"Seeing the suffering of the animal, seeing the unnecessary cruelty was disturbing," Kalama said. The video has gotten thousands of views since she linked to it from her organization's Facebook page earlier this week.
The person who posted the video didn't respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.
William Aila, chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, said in a statement Friday that what the people in the video did was very unsafe. But he said it's not illegal to fish for sharks and nothing in the video was against the law.
Matt Bogdanovitch, a scuba instructor who works at Honokohau Harbor, said he saw the group before they caught the shark. They were cutting up freshly caught ahi, or yellowfin tuna, and throwing pieces into the water, he said. He also saw them putting fish on what appeared to be a large hook.
Bogdanovitch was horrified when he saw the video later.
"I couldn't stop watching it, even though I wanted to. It was just disgusting, to me, these guys having such enjoyment out of harassing this animal," he said.
He'd like to see fishing for sharks become illegal.
Many online comments about the video have been negative.
Kalama said she's concerned because some of the remarks threatened the person who posted the video.
She's asking people to show compassion and to talk to one another, and not threaten each other.