Rehoboth Beach Patrol is defending the way they disposed of a sandbar shark that washed ashore in Rehoboth Beach on Sunday, suprising beachgoers and creating buzz on social media.
Tourists, locals, and beachgoers alike were suprised by the four-foot sandshark that washed ashore around 5 p.m. on the northend of the beach, according to Rehoboth Beach Patrol Captain Kent Buckson, who claimed the shark was dead at the time it was removed from the water.
“The shark was dead, it washed ashore around five o’clock on our northend. It was about a four foot sandbar shark possibly,” Buckson said. “You could see that it had been sick for a while, it had some lesions on it.”
Buckson said his lifeguards followed protocal and that they waited for the city’s public works department to arrive and retrieve the shark. “Typically what we do is we get it out of the surfline and move it back to the back of the beach and have public works come and pick it up and take it to our north or southend and bury it.”
Video footage of the incident was shared to social media by Andrea Ziegler, who was vacationing in Rehoboth Beach at the time with family. Her 11-year-old daughter, Elynna, was quick to film the incident as it unfolded.
The video shows two lifeguards with Rehoboth Beach Patrol transporting the shark with a shovel where it was then discarded into a trashcan.
Ziegler insists the shark was alive and said she and others witnessed it swimming back and forth and flopping around, which you can see in the video, after it washed ashore.
“The shark was swimming around, going back and forth, there were children in the water,” Ziegler said. “Me and my Mother were yelling ‘get out, get out there’s a shark’ and the shark was going back and forth, back and forth in the water.”
In the video, one of the lifeguards can be heard telling the crowd of spectators to “get back,” according to Ziegler, who questioned why they would say that if the shark wasn’t alive.
“You could hear the lifeguard saying, ‘get back, get back’ so if you’re telling the people to get back why were you telling them to get back if it wasn’t alive,” Ziegler emphasized in an attempt to further validate her claims that the shark was alive.
Nearing the last few seconds of the video one of the lifeguards can be heard saying, “the shark is sick, get back!”
Following the incident, Beach Patrol did not reach out to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) Division of Fish & Wildlife. While marine mammals are required to be reported and handled by special agencies such as the Institute, that same protocal is not required for sharks.
WGMD’s Alan Henney spoke to an official with DNREC about the incident who said, “it is a technical violation if a prohibited species; however in the spirit of public safety at a resort beach, we would allow latitude with lifeguard staff.”