While a group of swimmers were reportedly antagonizing a baby nurse shark at a beach in Boca Raton, Florida, the stressed animal latched on to a woman’s arm and refused to let go. The woman, who was rushed to the hospital with the 2-foot-long shark still attached to her arm, is recovering from the ordeal, but the shark died after what was undoubtedly a terrifying experience for him.

Nurse sharks are typically not aggressive. They like to keep to themselves and usually ignore humans, but a witness told the Sun Sentinel that a group of people was harassing the small shark and even holding him by his tail. Their actions likely prompted him to act aggressively and bite the woman, although it’s unclear whether she was in the group that harassed him.

This story reminds us of a heartbreaking string of incidents that have occurred recently in which animals have died after being harassed by humans. Just months ago, a baby dolphin died after reportedly being dragged from the ocean and passed around for selfies by a crowd of eager tourists. Days afterward, a different shark reportedly sustained severe trauma when the animal was pulled from the ocean by a man who wanted photos.

And it’s not just animals from the ocean who are at risk. A swan recently died in Macedonia when a woman forced the struggling animal to pose for pictures, and two peacocks reportedly died at a zoo in China after visitors grabbed them for selfies and even pulled out some of their feathers.

What You Can Do

Never, ever touch a marine animal or remove him or her from the water.

If an animal appears to be in distress or is injured or if you see anyone harassing an animal, contact local authorities immediately. If authorities are unresponsive, contact PETA.

Spread the word! It’s too late to help the baby shark who died, but we can share his story and let the world know that animals want to be left in peace.

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