Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Beel loves the headline of a Discovery News article about South African Leon Bekker, who recently was convicted of capturing a great white shark (see above). The headline: “Man Sentenced for Abusing Great White Shark.”
Naturally, Beel has looked deeper into the story. In all of photographs of Bekker and the shark, Bekker is red faced. Very red faced. It may be sunburn, but it really looks like Bekker’s head is about to explode from high blood pressure.
Here’s what the news agencies have missed. A small point to all, perhaps, save Bekker. The shark was a female! Check out the red circle. It encircles the shark’s pelvic fins. In male sharks, the pelvic fins have a pair of extensions called claspers that are used as intromittent organs to channel semen into the female’s cloaca during mating.
Bekker pleaded guilty to violating both the shark and various sections of the Marine Living Resources Act No 18 of 1988. Specifically, he was charged with “fishing for, collecting, attempting to kill, disturbing, harassing, chumming or attracting using bait or other means, keeping controlling or being in possession of a white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) or part thereof, without a permit.”
According to a Daily Mail report, Bekker was given a fine of R120,000 ($US 13,237) or a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for five years. Beel understands the fine, but a 12-month sentence that is suspended for five years? Maybe until he gets his blood pressure under control?
In a delightful irony, Bekker pleaded guilty, and was convicted, on the basis of photographic evidence. Bekker had posed with the shark for a series of photographs taken by, and published in, a local newspaper.
Beel bets he’s red faced about that!