The 1,300-pound mako shark caught off the Southern California coast on… (Associated Press )
If the fishermen who triumphantly hoisted the corpse of a massive mako shark expected to find those onshore applauding their achievement, they picked the wrong town.
The initial news coverage of the Texas men who hauled in a half-ton shark from the waters off Southern California on Monday certainly didn't reflect the reader reaction. Whereas broadcasters expressed awe at the potentially record-setting feat of reeling in a 1,300-pound shark, letter writers were apoplectic -- even more so than Times editorial writer Karin Klein's piece on Tuesday, which called the mako's death not a "colossal achievement but a colossal waste."
So far, nearly two dozen readers have sent their reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and not one of them finds anything positive about this tale. In a letter being published in Friday's paper, a writer from PETA calls fishing a bloodsport. Other readers directed their anger at The Times for covering this story at all. Nearly all of the letters expressed dismay that anyone would find killing a shark thrilling.
Here is a selection of those responses.
Lynette Sperber of Sherman Oaks says the only attention these fishermen deserve is from law enforcement:
"I am sickened and appalled at the front-page coverage of this story. Why are we glorifying such a brutal, cruel and unnecessary killing of this magnificent creature?
"These men should be charged with a crime. Maybe that would curtail such horrific killings in the future."
Thousand Oaks resident Andrew Marias also takes a swipe at the media:
"So some yahoo from Texas catches and kills a 'world record' mako shark, yells 'yeehaw!' -- and the media glorify this 'feat.' Environmental scientists and marine biologists will tell you that the killing of sharks is one of the most environmentally damaging of the many deplorable current human activities.
"Initially ignored by the media were the dozens of comments on the Web that overwhelmingly condemned this crime against nature.
"People are the most destructive force on this planet. Clearly it is too much to hope that their primary source of information would communicate something actually useful now and then. The adoration for this environmental felony is almost as shameful as the act itself."
Therese Whitney of Sherman Oaks succinctly skewers gender-based triumph:
"These self-satisfied males are all no doubt six inches taller and far more macho for having killed this lovely animal. What did they do with it? Eat it? I doubt it."
Giuseppe Mirelli of Los Angeles tips his cap -- to the shark:
"What I find disturbing and shameful is that there seemed to be no sense of compunction on the fishermen's gloating and smiling faces as they pose with their magnificent catch. This is a shark killed for sport and -- more dishearteningly -- a reality TV show.
"I fail to understand the feeling of triumph for killing such an impressive animal. As I contemplate the photographs, I'm humbled by the superiority of the dead animal and embarrassed by the pomposity and cowardice of man."
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