For a brief, weird moment in 2017, the notorious Miami shark hunter Mark "the Shark" Quartiano and conservationists were on the same side. After a couple of local fisher-bros filmed themselves dragging a shark behind a boat until the poor fish was in tatters and then proudly sent the video to Quartiano, the infamous fisherman posted it online to shame them. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigated, and the bros were ultimately charged with felony counts of animal cruelty.
Well, now Quartiano is back to pissing off animal lovers. In a video posted to his Instagram and Facebook pages on Christmas Eve, the love-him-or-hate-him charter captain profiled by New Times in 2016 gripped a bird by the neck and shook it. "What should I do with you?" Quartiano asked while the bird struggled in his grasp. "PETA THIS!" he wrote in the caption.
The video ended with the freed bird flying away, but it didn't matter: Angry commenters accused the shark hunter of torturing the animal. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's law-enforcement division opened an investigation. Quartiano spent most of Thursday taking calls from TV reporters.
"This is so ridiculous," Quartiano tells New Times. "I can't even believe I'm having this conversation. I already lost ten IQ points this morning."
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By his telling, the bird swallowed his bait and got caught on the line — a common occurrence for any fisherman. Holding the thing by the neck was the only way to pull out the hook. He says he didn't hurt the bird and has never injured one in his 45 years of fishing. "I patted him on the head, said don't do it again, and I scolded him, and he went on his way," Quartiano says. "If anything, I saved that bird's life." He pointed to a video he posted a week earlier on his Instagram page, in which he and his young son feed birds at the beach, as proof he doesn't harbor ill will toward the aviary
Asked about his comment regarding what he should do with the bird, he says was joking. And when he posted the "PETA THIS!" line, he was simply trying to rile people. "You gotta have a little sense of humor," he says. "People are so uptight these days. It's pretty sad."
By Thursday, Instagram had apparently removed the video, though it was still on YouTube and his Facebook page. Quartiano says he doesn't regret posting it.
"In fact," he says, "I'm thinking about reposting it."