Fury on Facebook over great white exposé
By Melanie Gosling, Pretoria News, 01. November 2011
A spat has broken out on Facebook pages with a man accusing the Mossel Bay researcher who exposed the illegal great white shark trophy hunter two weeks ago of “making a moerse issue” about the incident.
The man, Allan Firmani, wrote on shark researcher Ryan Johnson’s Facebook page: “Listen here, boet… you people are making a moerse issue about this white but wtf … why not so many questions about the GW that jumped into the boat at Mossel Bay… and was out the water so long? And then was lifted by its tail in the harbour… no man?”
Johnson responded: “Cool man, open to all opinions. But you know how different these situations were. I would never lift a great white like that unless it was the only possible option to save it.”
The incident occurred a few months ago when a 3m great white jumped into the research boat that Johnson was working on. Because of its size, the only way they could get the animal back into the water was by crane.
It then beached in the harbour, but Johnson and researchers tied it to a boat, and “swam” the shark alongside for about an hour to get water over its gills, and then cut it loose a kilometre offshore. It apparently survived.
Firmani responded to Johnson’s explanation: “I know one cannot pick up a creature of that weight by its tail….this is getting pathetic! Leave Leon alone and worry about other stuff more important… please leave the man, he is taking it hard.”
Firmani was referring to Leon Bekker, the George man who landed the great white in Mossel Bay two weeks ago, pulled it on to the rocks and posed next to it, giving a thumbs-up sign.
Several other people then posted comments on Facebook, telling Firmani that if Bekker were taking it hard, perhaps he had learnt his lesson not to hunt protected great whites.
Firmani responded: “Leon gets k** for taking a photo of a white, but these @@#!$@#@ can go out and kill one… explain?”
Finally Johnson writes: “Out of respect I let you have your go, but am not dedicating more time to this discussion, I am letting the law-enforcement officers do their work now.”
On Sunday, Firmani posted a photograph on his Facebook page of an unidentified man pulling a fish hook out of the mouth of a great white shark with a pair of pliers.
Comments that Facebook friends posted under the picture included: “heheh, Ryan gaan jou vang!” (Ryan is going to catch you).
There is no information about the hooked great white. However, Meaghen McCord, director of the South African Shark Conservancy in Hermanus, said she had been told that the photograph was of Firmani and that the shark had been landed on Sunday.
McCord has been trawling Facebook pages, and has found several of South Africans posing with great whites they have caught.
It is illegal to catch great whites, which are vulnerable to extinction.
McCord is posting the photographs, with the names of the men who caught the great whites, on angling sites to “name and shame” the anglers concerned.
To date, there has not been a conviction in South Africa for hunting great white sharks. – Cape Times
Photo: A photograph on Allan Firmani’s Facebook page shows an unidentified man pulling a fish hook out of the mouth of a great white shark with a pair of pliers.