A 33-year-old Florida man will face criminal charges after he allegedly beat a shark with a hammer at a Florida beach in December 2022 and then returned it to the ocean, an incident that was captured on video and sparked an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the State Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
FOX 35 first reported in January that the FWC had recommended charges against the man, and that it would ultimately be up to state prosecutors to decide to file charges. The State Attorney's Office filed two misdemeanor charges against Brian Waddill, of Melboune, last week: Violation of Restrictions on Possession of Prohibited Species, Failure to Return Prohibited Species Unharmed, and Violation of Prohibition Against Harvest, Landing or Sale of Sharks.
A court summons has been issued for Waddill, the State Attorney's Office said in a news release. It declined to comment further citing the active and ongoing case.
The alleged incident happened on Dec. 20 at Bicentennial Beach Park in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida. Surveillance video from a nearby business caught the incident on camera, and was shared with FOX 35.
The FWC quickly confirmed that it was investigating the incident in December and that it had identified the person in the video. However, few details or updates have been released since.
According to the report, the shark is believed to be a lemon shark, which is a protected species in the state of Florida. Fishing of lemon sharks in state waters is prohibited, according to the FWC's website.
According to the report, two people witnessed the man's actions and contacted authorities. An FWC investigator responded to the beach and interviewed a man who matched descriptions that the witnesses provided.
The investigator noted in the report that the man appeared agitated by his questions about the alleged incident. The man told the investigator that he was fishing at the beach and caught a shark.
The man admitted to deputies that he struck the shark and then released back into the water, the report said. The investigator was unable to locate the shark due to the tide, according to the report.
It is not known if the shark survived or not.
In the report, a witness told deputies that the alleged man does fish at that particular beach a lot and that multiple calls to police have been made regarding him.
Shark fishing is legal in Florida, though there are rules on the type of sharks that can be caught and pulled out of the ocean, as well as the number of fish that can be claimed.
Lemon sharks are among 28 protected sharks in the state of Florida, according to the FWC's website.
There are also rules depending on where you're fishing, such as on a boat, from the beach, a bridge, pier, or jetty.