FWC recommending charges in alleged shark hammer attack at Florida beach

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seeks to recommend charges against a 33-year-old man who was recorded on video allegedly bludgeoning a shark with a hammer at a Florida beach in December 2022.

According to the FWC's investigative report, which was obtained by FOX 35, the FWC is recommending two charges be filed against the man:

  • Harvesting or possessing a prohibited species
  • Catching a prohibited species and not immediately releasing it without harm

Ultimately, it will be up to the Brevard County State Attorney's Office to decide whether to file formal charges against the man.

A spokesperson told FOX 35 on Thursday that it had either not yet received the report or was still in the transfer process. Once received, it would then be reviewed by prosecutors.

The man has not been arrested nor have charges been filed against him. Because of that, FOX 35 is not releasing his name.

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.

FOX 35 has reached out to the FWC weekly for updates on the case. On Thursday, the FWC released its summary report.

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.

When fishing from the shore – also known as shore fishing – the FWC requires anyone 16 and older, including those 65 and older, to pass an online course and to obtain a permit.