Rosie O'Donnell is catching some heat from environmentalists, irate at the killing of hammerhead sharks during fishing trips off the South Florida coast.
The ocean predators are considered overfished around the globe. Florida banned their killing January. 1, long after O'Donnell's fishing trips.
Now the TV personality Mark "The Shark" Quartiano, the famous Miami Beach shark fishermen who guided the expeditions, recently posted a photo of O'Donnell next to a dead hammerhead on his website as "This Month's Celebrity Angler."
Since then, as other photos of O'Donnell shark-killing expeditions surfaced, environmentalists have attacked her via Facebook and Twitter accounts, accusing her of going after species that are struggling to survive.
"Right now sharks are the most endangered animals around," said Erik Brush, a Sarasota marine conservationist who helped start the campaign against O'Donnell. "This is basically an endorsement. It sends the message that it's an OK activity. And this is not an activity that we want celebrities endorsing."
O'Donnell's publicist did not respond to requests for comment.
Quartiano defended the trips, which took place over the past two or three years, calling O'Donnell "a great angler. She's very conservation-minded. We've caught a lot of fish and released a lot of fish. We've also caught fish for eating and trophies."
As for O'Donnell's reaction to the controversy, he said "She's amused by it. She wants me to go on her show."
He defended killing hammerheads, saying the few caught for sport were dwarfed by the huge numbers taken by commercial fishing fleets. "These conservation guys are hitting the wrong target," he said.
No one accuses O'Donnell of doing anything illegal. But they say a celebrity known for her philanthropic work, particularly for children, should have been aware of the conservation implications of her actions.
More at the Sun Sentinel.
UPDATE: Rosie O’Donnell defended herself via Twitter against a hail of criticism over hammerhead sharks killed on family fishing trips off Miami Beach.
“i love the ocean - i am on it daily in miami - chill people — really — my family fishes,” she tweeted Wednesday. (Via Sun Sentinel)