Australian fisherman Billy Brislane has created a massive internet backlash, after posting photos of himself using a baby shark as a smoking device. Brislane reportedly posted the video to the Facebook group “Fried Fishing,” where it quickly went viral.
The video shows Brislane holding up the lifeless body of a baby shark that he turned into a makeshift bong. The song “Baby Shark” can be heard playing in the background of the video.
The video initially drew some excitement from the first few viewers, but the humor quickly turned to outrage as the story reached more people.
One user on Twitter said, “Humans need to do better than this. Sharks are not trophies, toys, or bongs. I can’t believe this is even real. Shame on this person and anyone who thinks this is even remotely okay.”
Another commented, “This must be one of the most shocking uses I have every seen of an animal on social media. We’ve seen people trying to get a chimapanzee high on Instagram, and now a fisherman using a shark as a pipe/bong. Losing hope for humanity sometimes.”
The video has since been taking down, but Brislane has defended the video, saying that the shark was “caught by my mate when we were fishing for mangrove jacks on Friday. After two nights left in the icebox, I came up with the idea. There is no possible way it was alive.”
In another later post, Brislane said that the police visited his house, and insisted that he wasn’t using drugs, but merely smoking tobacco out of the shark. Brislane volunteered to submit to a drug test to confirm that he was not smoking anything illegal.
“I just want to say thanks to the bunch of sooks who have complained to the point of the police visiting. Honestly, I quit,” Brislane said.
It seems that there is a sharp divide in opinions on this issue between animal rights activists and people who think that Brislane had every right to do what he wanted with a dead animal.
“The shark is dead though, I don’t get why it offends people so much. Can’t have a joke about anything anymore,” One online commenter pointed out.
Brislane has told reporters that he has received death threats over the video and that he will be taking a step away from social media for his own sanity.
In an article for Forbes, Melissa Cristina Márquez, pointed out that:
From what we can see from the grainy video, the small shark seems to be a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), also known as a River Whaler, Freshwater Whaler, or Swan River Whaler. Adults can get up to 11 feet in length and up to 500 lbs in weight. Worldwide, their home range includes the coastlines of tropical and subtropical oceans. In Australia, they are found from the central New South Wales coast, to across the northern coast to Perth, Western Australia. Bull sharks are infamous for being a species that can swim far into fresh water for extended periods, and it is here where sometimes it breeds. The females will normally give birth in estuaries and river mouths, where the baby sharks (pups) can stay in the river for up to 5 years. They enjoy inshore, murky water and here they dine on a variety of animals including fish, sharks, rays, turtles, birds, mollusks, crustaceans, and dolphins.
Márquez also noted that bull sharks are classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Researchers have also found that the number of sharks in general have declined throughout Queensland over the past 55 years.
In all the argument about whether or not Brislane was being cruel to the shark, there were very few commenters questioning how smoking out of a shark could be a very bad health decision. Brislane opened himself up to a number of infections and illnesses by inhaling particles from the inside of the shark. These particles can also carry parasites into the body.
Brislane’s gross prank seems very similar to the American Tide Pod challenge, or other potentially harmful stunts that young people do on social media to get clicks and attention.