Updated: Oct 18, 2022
By Faith Makenzie, Jr in High School.
Toying with the balance of predators on Planet Earth has historically ended in ecological catastrophe. Recent events off the east coast of Florida have drawn attention to the formerly neglected war occurring under the waves between sharks and mankind. A bull shark fishing tournament organized by Jason Rafael Barquin, also known as “Jason WarBird” on Facebook, was hosted on July 9th, 2022 outside of Jupiter Florida. After further investigation, many claims and amends vowed were disproven shortly after.
Jason Bararquin, posted on the “Sportsmen Fighting for Marine Balance” Facebook page before the tournament saying, “Just spoke with the regional commanding officer from FWC. Informed him that it is a Bull Shark-only tournament, and they are excited and ready. Don't want to put his words in writing here but let's just say they are aware of the issue and on our side. We are full speed ahead boys and girls.”
At a captain meeting on the 8th, captain testimonies and a video recording from an undercover citizen show Jason Barquin instructing captions to kill every shark they have, removing all evidence. On record, Barquin says, “When you take your shark, please don't go out there and throw the whole (…) shark over the side. Clean the shark, take the fins, take the meat, please take it all off before you throw it in the water…” The men applauded at the instruction and permission for a massacre of apex predators as the video concluded.
The sharks were being displayed on the shore exactly as Baraquin instructed them to be dealt this. They were sawed open, organs removed, fins removed, and horrific battle wounds etched into their skin. One woman participating in the tournament called a man over and said, “Cut off that and we can hang it from our rearview” referring to the claspers, the shark’s sex organ. Another man used the hanging shark as a punching bag while throwing racial slurs. Private captains additionally claimed the meat was going to homeless shelters. Chats on the private Facebook group display members talking about bringing 12-gauge shotguns with slugs and other various lead-infused and powered weapons, adding additional toxicity in meat with preexisting elevated mercury levels! Time stamps and testimonies on the images show that the meat laid in the sun for far too long to be able to be consumed. No intentions were ever made with the mindset of donation or animals' best interest.
Words being used include “Horrendous” “Disgusting” “Vile” “Inhumane” “Cruel” “Gruesome” “Heartbreaking” “Inexcusable” “Wicked” and “Sick.” Sparking the hashtag quickly gaining traction #LetsGoSaveSomeFloridaSharks or #LGSSFS.
After further research, Shark enthusiast “John Bullshark'' posted, “Oh wow. Look who's on the NOAA Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel??? One of the organizers of the Bull Shark cull yesterday.” This man has since been unveiled as a co-founder/director of this tournament while sitting on the board at NOAA. Florida Fish and Wildlife services did not have patrol present to regulate the catches from the boats either.
On July 9th, protestors lined the streets, calling for the protection of the keystone species and pleaded for justice for this magnificent animal that deserves our respect. Save Florida Sharks is an Instagram account set up to combat the brutality of these horrific events that shares footage and action plans. This page has created an organized Link Tree, allowing easy access to a script, open to modifications, and a list of contacts to email demands of change. They have supplied a plethora of alternative resources and opportunities to support the fight to restore balance in their bio. It is crucial to act now in a respectful and professional way to ensure the safety of the oceans we love and the planet we need. Even the smallest of actions can ripple into large and long-lasting changes.