Rosie O’Donnell, New Co-Host of The View, Killed an Endangered Hammerhead Shark for Fun

Slate’s animal blog.
July 11 2014 4:30 PM

Rosie O’Donnell, New Co-Host of The View, Killed an Endangered Hammerhead Shark

It's just fishing!

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star via Getty Images, Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

After controversial anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy was let go from The View, the producers were presumably looking for someone with less of a history of being on the wrong side of public policy. In Rosie O’Donnell, they made an awful choice. O’Donnell killed an endangered hammerhead shark for fun, bragged about the experience, and insulted conservationists who were upset at her actions.

O’Donnell has been a frequent customer of “Mark the Shark,” an infamous shark hunter—that is, one of the few charter boat operators in Florida who doesn’t practice catch and release when fishing for sharks. He claims to have personally killed more than 100,000 sharks. Mark the Shark’s website, which features a photo gallery of scantily clad women lying on top of dead fish, includes warnings like “photos on this site may not be suitable for children, the faint-hearted, or PETA members,” and “We DON’T fly release flags, but we DO hang fish upside down.” I met him once, and the picture you’ve probably formed in your head from reading the description above is pretty accurate.


On one trip, O’Donnell and her family caught and killed a great hammerhead shark and then posed for a picture next to their “trophy.”

Though many species of sharks are in trouble, hammerheads are in particularly bad shape. It is illegal for fisherman to kill great and scalloped hammerheads in Florida state waters, though that wasn’t the case at the time O’Donnell caught this shark. Both species were already considered Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and both had suffered severe and well-publicized population declines due to overfishing. The Florida ban went into effect shortly after O’Donnell’s trip. Scalloped hammerheads sharks recently became the first species of shark ever listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

When this story broke in January of 2012, I joined many in the marine science and conservation Twitter community in criticizing O’Donnell and asking for an apology and a promise never to kill an endangered animal for fun again. She mocked our concerns, insulted us, and refused to apologize. She made nonsensical claims such as “chill, my family fishes,” and “it wasn’t endangered 11 days ago.” As I explained to her at the time, I am not opposed to recreational fishing; I’m opposed to killing endangered species for fun.

In a time when a teenage hunter posting photos of endangered land animals is considered so offensive that Facebook removed her photos, one of the most-watched and most-honored talk shows in the country should not give a voice to someone who did the same thing with an endangered ocean animal.

David Shiffman is a Ph.D. student at the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy at the University of Miami. He writes for Southern Fried Science. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.