The past few weeks have generated negative sentiment toward Rosie O’Donnell among some online conservation groups for photos that recently surfaced on Mark “The Shark” Quartiano’s website. A photo featuring O’Donnell and some of her family members posing with a hammerhead shark they caught, recently appeared after Quartiano named O’Donnell “This Month’s Celebrity Angler.”
The shark seen in the photo at the center of the controversy appears to be a great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran). The great hammerhead is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Despite the endangered status of the species, it was not until January 1 of this year that it became illegal to kill great hammerhead sharks in Florida state waters.
Until this week the criticism was limited to online social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. However, it seems that the major media has picked up the story this week. Several media outlets based in Miami are reporting on the story, as are a handful of international media outlets.
O’Donnell has responded via Twitter that the photo was “taken years ago” and occurred before the regulations were put into effect banning the killing of hammerhead sharks. Quartiano told Miami’s WSVN-TV that conservationists are targeting the wrong person, noting that as a result of commercial fishing operations “metric tons of sharks being killed daily right outside of our coast.”