By David Fleshler, Sun Sentinel –
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Rosie O’Donnell defended herself via Twitter against a hail of criticism over hammerhead sharks killed on family fishing trips off Miami Beach.
“i love the ocean — i am on it daily in miami — chill people — really — my family fishes,” she tweeted Wednesday.
The TV personality, who owns a home on Miami Beach’s posh Star Island, has taken her children on several fishing excursions with Mark “The Shark” Quartiano, the best-known shark fisherman in Florida. Quartiano posted a photo of her next to a giant, dead hammerhead hanging from hook on his website a few weeks ago, leading to a torrent of criticism from conservationists who said she was killing animals that are severely overfished.
An article on her shark-fishing activities appeared Wednesday in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, leading to stories on celebrity gossip sites, British newspapers and other publications.
“DISGUSTING: Rosie Odonnell & family catch a huge beautiful hammerhead shark. What a bad mom!”
She replied: “a bad mom ? ok then — thanks.”
Hammerhead sharks are considered overfished around the globe, being highly sought after to serve the ravenous demand in China for shark fin soup. Florida banned the catch of three species of hammerhead, although the ban took effect only on Jan. 1, long after O’Donnell’s excursions.
“my family fishes and good friends hunt,” one person posted on her site. “The difference is that they don’t go after species at risk. Be more selective.”
O’Donnell responded: “we were not going after any species in particular — u catch what u catch — and it wasnt endangered til 11 days ago.”
Neither O’Donnell nor her publicist have responded to requests for comment.
“Perhaps there is a better bait source than an endangered animal?” tweeted another. “Also that captain has a terrible reputation for slaughtering sharks.”
She responded: “he is one of the best in his business — he is one man — y dont u worry about commercial fishing where the slaughter by thousands.”