A Florida conservation group says a woman's desire to pose for photos with a hammerhead shark effectively sentenced the protected animal to death last Sunday. WFTX reports Lauren Dondero was on a Mother's Day fishing trip to Fort Myers Beach when she caught a hammerhead shark. After an hour and a half of reeling, Dondero says she brought the shark onto the beach and posed for photos with it for about 10 minutes before returning it to the ocean. "It was the most exciting feeling in the world seeing a hammerhead," she says. The shark was found dead on the beach hours later, according to WPTV. The news of the shark's death combined with photos of Dondero posing with the shark on social media attracted the attention of conservation group Sharks After Dark.
"You don't pull a hammerhead all the way up onto the beach, you don't let it dry out, and you definitely don't sit on top of it and take photos," an activist with the group tells WPTV. A 2014 study showed hammerheads are the most likely sharks to die from being caught and released, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Lactic acid builds up in their bodies while they struggle to get free and combines with stress to kill them. A local environmental technician says that could be what happened with this hammerhead, according to Fort Myers Beach Talk. Despite a law against bringing hammerheads onto the beach, Dondero, who reported herself after hearing of the shark's death, won't be punished. "I made a mistake, and I apologize," she tells WFTX. "I was crying for that shark." (Similar sad stories involved peacocks and a baby dolphin.)