The photo getting the most attention shows her holding a juvenile grey reef shark out of the water. I think that's her dive master or boat captain on the right. Anyone know his name?
A few minutes later she posted a second photo holding the shark. Palau is a shark sanctuary and it is illegal to fish for sharks. If you accidentally catch a shark, it should be released while still in the water, not brought on board for selfies.
They were also collecting giant clams. I don't think that's Tridacna gigas, but is this legal for tourists to do in the Rock Islands?
So can you help? Here's a photo she posted of her dive boat. Can you help identify which shop this is? I hope that the authorities can go pay them a visit and remind them not to harass sharks.
The Palauan authorities are investigating the tour operator. We will follow the story and post updates.
Also, there has been much discussion on social media about how the shark was caught accidentally. The catching of the shark was not illegal; the law was broken when the shark was brought on board the vessel.
The Palau Shark Sanctuary law reads:
(i)f any shark is inadvertently caught or captured, it shall be immediately released, whether dead or alive; if the shark is caught or captured alive, it shall be released in the manner that affords it the greatest opportunity for survival.The law continues:
to possess, receive, sell, transfer, store, have on board, or transship any shark, or any part of any shark. For the purpose of this subsection, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that if any shark, or any part of a shark, is found aboard a vessel the shark, or shark part, was possessed or transferred in violation of this subsection.The criminal penalties for violating this law are "punishable by a fine of not more than $250,000."
The dive shop should be worried because the authorities in Palau are known to enforce their laws. Just last month they handed out a $100,000 fine to a vessel that was illegally fishing in Palauan waters and found with 304 sharks aboard their vessel. In neighboring Saipan, a dive master was recently jailed for six months after he posted a photo to Facebook of an eagle ray he killed.