A severed shark’s head has been found impaled on a fence outside Marine Rescue Shellharbour’s headquarters, angering the organisation’s volunteer members.
Crews arrived on Sunday morning to find the mako shark’s head – with a cigarette butt stuck in one of its teeth and two pieces of pizza in its mouth – on the metal access gate outside the base.
“It’s a real shark’s head. We tend to believe it was caught overnight [on Saturday], and whoever caught it has gutted it and cut the head off,” Marine Rescue Shellharbour unit commander Richard O’Connor told the Illawarra Mercury.
“We don’t believe it’s a vicious attack on us, but it’s certainly not something that we want to have happen again.”
Marine Rescue Shellharbour has a member base of 33 people and Mr O’Connor said the shark head was “not something that we expect our people to turn up to”.
“And we certainly don’t expect the community to look at us and think we deserve something like that,” he said.
Mr O’Connor described the incident as “either a joke or a misdirected statement”.
“We’re looking at it as a couple of people may have been having a joke. We certainly don’t want to think it’s a statement towards us or what we do,” he said.
Marine Rescue does assist the National Parks and Wildlife Service by allowing its staff on their boats, should the need arise, but had nothing to do with marine wildlife, Mr O’Connor said.
A post on Marine Rescue Shellharbour’s Facebook page said people needed to “understand that we are a volunteer rescue organisation that helps boaties not marine life”.
On Monday morning, the statewide Marine Rescue organisation used its social media to label the incident a “low blow” for volunteers.
“How NOT to treat a volunteer emergency service. Marine Rescue Shellharbour crews arrived for duty [on Sunday] to find a shark’s head impaled on the base fence. It’s a low blow for our committed volunteers who give up their time to save lives on the water,” Marine Rescue NSW posted on Twitter.
Mr O’Connor said the organisation wasn’t necessarily interested in knowing the names of the person, or persons, responsible – but wanted them to get the message not to do it again.
How NOT to treat a volunteer emergency service. Marine Rescue Shellharbour crews arrived for duty Saturday to find a shark’s head impaled on the base fence. It’s a low blow for our committed volunteers who give up their time to save lives on the water. pic.twitter.com/1QuhYTLiqj— Marine Rescue NSW (@MarineRescueNSW) June 10, 2018