Despite claims that sharks caught during Western Australia's controversial shark cull are released alive if they are not large enough, activist photos have revealed sharks that were found dead shortly after they are caught and removed from the lines.
According to WA Today, the photos were taken Wednesday morning by activists monitoring the five drum lines that were set up to catch sharks, in an effort to decrease the number of fatal shark attacks on humans. The photos show two undersized tiger sharks with wounds on their jaws falling to the bottom of the ocean after being "released." [Warning: Link contains disturbing images]
On Tuesday, Australia's Fisheries Minister Ken Baston released data on the shark cull for the first time: so far, 66 sharks have been caught on the lines, and 17 of those have been killed. Of those that were undersized, nine sharks were found dead already. But conservationists worry that even more of the sharks that were released died shortly after. Australian Greens Party member Lynn Ellen MacLaren said that she believes many of the sharks won't live after being hooked.
"We have other still images of how the hooks are being taken out of the sharks and in particular quite a few bloody images of how the fisherman down south is cutting into the jaw and obviously damaging the shark beyond its ability to survive."
A spokesman with the Department of Premier and Cabinet countered this, saying, "Some 82 percent of the under-three-metre [about 10 feet] sharks caught to date have been successfully released."
But MacLaren argues that because nearly all of the undersized sharks fishermen have caught are tiger sharks -- a species that isn't normally involved in human fatalities. And, she says, catching these smaller sharks could attract larger predator sharks from even further away.
"At the end of the day we are really questioning whether this policy is achieving anything at all," Ms MacLaren said.