You can’t call them sportsmen. Four Florida teenagers have been charged with breaking into an outdoor aquarium, hooking a tarpon, then yanking the hook out so violently that the fish died.
“There’s no legitimate reason for them having done what they did. In reality, it was just pure meanness,” Marin County Sheriff William Snyder said, reports WSVN.
The youths were caught on video sneaking into the closed Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center on Aug. 5 with fishing rods. They fished the center’s Game Fish Lagoon, catching a snapper and the tarpon, WSVN reported.
“People catch tarpon all the time, it’s a game fish. They’ll pop off a scale, and then release the fish gently. And in this case, they caught the tarpon, ripped the hook out with so much force that it took part of the fish’s insides out. And they just left it there to die,” Snyder told the station.
Giovanni Del Greco and Matteo Dal Vecchio, both 18, were charged with burglary, WSVN reported. The other two boys were underage.
The Oceanographic Coastal Center released a statement, saying in part, “these were not just animals—they were long-term members of our family who taught our community about wild marine creatures and how to protect them. The animals that were killed had lived with us since they were juveniles; this was their home.”
The 57-acre center, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon about 40 miles north of West Palm Beach, includes the lagoon, a stingray interaction aquarium, numerous educational facilities and the headquarters of the Florida Oceanographic Society.
The center has been violated before. In 2015, someone injured a nurse shark, and five years later, other intruders injured a stingray and stole a margate, MSVN reported.