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Controversy Swells After Man 'Rides 6-foot Shark Like a Cowboy' in Panama City

Hurting or helping?

By Cassidy Ward
Is Jaws Actually a Horror Movie?

In the summer of 1975, New England beachgoers suffered a rash of fatal attacks from a killer shark in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. The movie basically invented the summer blockbuster along with an enduring public fear of sharks. The truth is that most sharks are just doing their thing without any regard for us. Hiring a bewildered marine biologist and a grizzled boat captain to dispense some fishy justice may sometimes be necessary, but infrequent. Humiliating sharks for fun, however, is generally seen as what scientists refer to as “a jerk move.”

RELATED: Steven Spielberg 'Truly' Regrets Demonization of Sharks and Harmful Sport Fishing Caused by Jaws

A recent video shared online appears to show a group of Panama City Beachgoers wrestling a 6-foot shark out of the water, holding it down, and “riding it like a cowboy,” as one young beachgoer described it. In the video below, you can see the shark thrashing wildly, attempting to get back to deeper waters. Meanwhile, the group pull the fish ashore with the help of what appears to be a fishing line entangling the shark.

Once the shark is partially beached, one of the men straddles it and sits down just behind the dorsal fin. The shark continues to thrash while the man holds on, prompting laughter from onlookers and scorn from commenters online.

While some interpreted the video as a vicious display of animal cruelty, others see an attempt to help, perhaps also having a little fun (appropriate or not) while they’re at it. Some commenters speculate that the shark was caught by a fisherman, something common to the area, and the group were attempting to remove a fishing hook before releasing the animal. In that context, sitting on the shark may have been a way of stabilizing the shark while the hook was removed. Shortly after the “cowboy” moment, another man does move to the front of the shark where he may have been removing a hook.

The precise motives of the people involved are, as yet, unclear. Witnesses reported that the shark was released shortly thereafter, and no injuries were reported, except presumably to the shark’s face and pride.

We recommend leaving the shark encounters to the silver screen. Catch the entire Jaws saga, available now from Universal Pictures.