In a blow to one of the world's most endangered marine species, two grey nurse sharks have been found shot dead in the waters off the waters of New South Wales, Australia. Authorities say that the senseless killing is "totally unacceptable" and have launched an investigation to find those responsible.
There are believed to be only around 1,500 of these sharks remaining in the region, meaning the loss of even just one breeding female, as was one of the animals killed, further imperils their recovery.
Despite their menacing appearance, grey nurse sharks are well known as posing no threat to humans, and are in fact quite tolerant of people, suggesting that the person or persons who shot the sharks did not do so out of defense.
"They are incredibly docile creatures, you can swim right up next to them without any concern," Rob Townsend from the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary told the Newcastle Herald. "To deliberately go out and kill them, someone has made a conscious decision to kill these animals, it's just wrong."
If caught, the penalties for the shark killings include fines of up to $220,000 and two years in jail.
This isn't the first time that sharks have been unfairly targeted in Australia, likely arising from the overblown assumption that they are always dangerous to humans. In reality, there are only about 75 unprovoked shark attacks around the world every year, with about six of those resulting in fatalities -- far fewer deaths than occur from other, more benign-seeming causes, like room fresheners.
More info on senseless shark slaughter: