Miami Beach Commissioners Ask Stores to Please Stop Selling Dead Sharks in Jars

Hoping to pick up a tiny dead shark in a jar for someone special this Christmas? Or perhaps a baby alligator skull? You better not tarry!

City commissioners in Miami Beach last week passed a resolution asking local merchants to stop selling these truly bizarre souvenirs ASAP. This was necessary because, for some reason, shark jars and baby alligator heads have long been staples at Florida tourist shops — almost as common as those "I'm in Miami Bitch" T-shirts.

"Miami Beach stands for a lot of things: We're very pro-environment; we really care about wildlife and all the animals," says Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored the resolution. "And I don't think having dead species like alligators and sharks — some with the label 'Miami Beach' on them — is consistent with that."

Anger over the trinkets started on a Facebook group called Miami Beach Animal Advocates, where someone reported seeing shark jars at a store on Lincoln Road. Comments quickly poured in, calling it "disgusting" and "sickening" and asking the very reasonable question, "Why would anyone buy that?" (Back in 2014, Wings, one of Lincoln Road mall's most popular shops, stopped selling sharks in jars because of customer complaints. The
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also took some action on alligators.)

Soon, activist Sara Velasquez had started an online petition calling for a ban on the sale of the infamous souvenirs in Miami Beach.

"They once were live animals," she tells New Times. "Commercializing on this is wrong."

But only the FWC can regulate marine life, so city commissioners decided to ask nicely. They did not mince words in the resolution, though, calling the sale of items made from dead animals a "disturbing and unsavory practice" and a "grotesque enterprise motivated by profits."

"Alligators and sharks play a vital role in our ecosystem and should not be the object of crude and objectionable display and profit," the resolution says, calling the souvenirs "macabre curios."

A second resolution calls for the state to step in and enact stricter regulations on the fishing and harvesting of shark and alligator species.

"I have seen some of these things in tourist shops," says Vice Mayor Michael Góngora, who cosponsored both resolutions. "I've always thought it was gross, personally. I can't imagine why anybody would want to buy this or have this. But I guess people do."
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas