Nantucket resident Elliot Sudal has drawn the ire of animal activists and fish everywhere after video of the fishing enthusiast wrestling a 7-foot shark out of the water surfaced on the Web.
The 24-year-old Sudal, who claims to have caught-and-released over a hundred sharks over the past year says his pastime is largely harmless. "I pull them on shore, I photograph them, and then I let them go, I'm pretty conservation minded, I'm not trying to eat them or hurt them," he told National Geographic, who spoke to him about the video. "It's a big epic battle—after catching a big shark you can't really go back to catching five-pound fish."
Some have expressed concern over Sudal’s methods, specifically that he could be hurting the sharks without knowing it. "Sharks have very sensitive bodies, with some even having to keep water moving over their gills to breathe," said Amanda Keledjian of the environmental group Oceana. "Sharks can also easily have their internal organs bruised or damaged, which wouldn't be apparent after immediately being released.”
Sudal is aware of his critics but believes that he is far from the greatest threat to the oceans. "I am getting backlash, but the Chinese kill a hundred million sharks a year for their fins," he said "And I let this one go, and I didn't do anything illegal."