Tiger shark killed by Australian fishermen in possible world record catch sparks anger among campaigners

Image of trio with giant dead fish attracts mixed reaction online

Three fishermen caught and killed a 98-stone tiger shark - in a possible world-record catch.

The trio from Australia posted an image on Facebook  of them standing next to the 625.5 kilogram creature they caught off the country's south-eastern coast.

The post has since been shared around 4,200 times, liked by 3,983 people and prompted more than 2,000 comments.

Pending World Record tiger 625.5kg on 15kg... Huge effort off Swansea....

Posted by Offshore Fishing NSW on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

But many people condemned the catch, pointing out the shark could not be eaten and was an endangered species.

Many shark species have been found to have high levels of chemical substances as a result of ocean pollution levels and may be toxic for humans, according to the US' Shark Research Institute.

Facebook user Bec Hofmeister said: "If you're so proud of yourself, why did you blank out the vessel name and angler? Or did you just want a picture that made you look like a man?"

While some commentators said killing the shark would make surfers safer, others said tagging and tracking it would be more effective in the long-term.

Others appeared to compare the act to the killing of Cecil the lion by trophy-hunting dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe, an incident which caused outrage around the world.

"Probably took years to get to that size, why the need to kill it?" asked Marie Ann Krause. "You are just as bad as poachers in Africa."

Russell Lake, who said he was a fisherman, wrote: "Been fishing nearly my whole life and catching this tiger [shark] and killing it is no different than shooting a lion or a bengal tiger."

Tiger sharks are listed as threatened throughout their ocean range and have "extremely low repopulation rates", according to the National Geographic. 

Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year and one-third of open ocean shark species are threatened with extinction, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

But Facebook user David Stiller said: "Last tiger [shark] I caught had three turtles and a baby dolphin inside of it. You guys just saved hundreds of turtles' lives. Not to mention all the dolphins' lives as well. Job well done."

The tiger shark is "pending" as a world record for its weight, according to Offshore Fishing NSW, the group which first posted the picture.

In 2014, a government policy to capture and kill large sharks near swimming beaches along the western Australian coastline prompted national public demonstrations.

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