Fishermen defend photo of dying shark

Posted at 10:50 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 01:50:13-05

A picture of a dying shark lying on the Ocean Beach Pier is going viral.

Elsa Brum took the picture Tuesday night. She says the shark gasped for air for an hour.

"It was bleeding still and it was trying to breathe. And as the animal was struggling, more blood would come out," Brum said. "I'm ok with fishing and catching a shark if it's legal, that's fine. But don't let it bleed to death and choke in its own blood. I mean, that's really sad."

10News tracked down the group that caught the 7-foot Soupfin shark.

The Wicked Homies Fisherman Crew stood by their kill. Ricardo Pena says "bleeding" a shark is a common practice to preserve the freshness of the fish.

"We'll bleed him out which kills him immediately, ok? He's not just sitting on the deck suffering," Pena said.

Pena says they often use their catch to help feed the community.

"Came back the next day with like more than 200 tostadas and a big old bucket of ceviche, and they just started handing out tostadas to the community, you know?" Pena said. "And everybody was 'Oh how much? How much?' 'No it's free, it's free, here you go.' We want to share the love, spread the love."

It is legal in San Diego to hunt Soupfin sharks. Pena says they'll use every last bit of the shark they caught.

“The fact that we caught it and we’re going to keep it. You know, we’re not going to throw it back and let it die. And waste it,” Pena said. “It’s a cycle of life, you know? You live, you’re born, you die.”