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Paybacks Are Hell: Spear-Fisher Becomes Live Bait

Written by PETA | September 30, 2011

A man who was spear-fishing off Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico found out what it was like to be speared by a fish when a shark bit his left thigh. By issuing a series of biting (geddit?) ads placed in the area, PETA is using this incident to remind Floridians that the deadliest killers in the water aren’t sharks—but human beings.

Watch the latest video at

Sharks aren’t the only animals who have been striking back:

  • A grizzly bear made sure hers was the last life an avid hunter ever claimed when she charged a pair of men who were hunting animals along the border of Idaho and Montana, killing one of them before she was gunned down. 
  • A woman “hunting” mice inside her California trailer dropped her gun, sending a shot through her knee and her male companion’s groin. The mice escaped.  
  • An Indonesian man who left his seven dogs alone for two weeks without food or water returned to find that they had developed a taste for chow mein man.

Perhaps if animals always fought back, people might think twice about abusing them. It would save a lot of lives all around. And speaking of saving lives—maybe these surfers will always be spared from shark attacks in return for their compassionate actions.

Written by Michelle Sherrow

Commenting is closed.
  • Greg says:

    I loved this article. It’s justice, plain and simple. Man is so quick to torture and kill animals for sport and profit. I hope it happens more.

  • Swarley says:

    Seriously, animals really do deserve to be treated better. Humanity has really let down all the animals in the world by allowing one great atrocity: allowing PETA to be their voice. It’s an unforgivable crime… the one chance they had to have a voice and we let that voice be PETA. I only hope our grandchildren can forgive our generation. To all the animals of the world, from the largest blue whale to the tiniest mouse, I am so sorry these idiots turned out to be your voice. I know you’d forgive us if you could, but your voice has it’s head so far up it’s ass that we’ll probably never understand what it’s truly saying.

  • Gayne says:

    If you want your message to really mean something, why don’t you try rising above the people you’re trying to communicate to? This ad is sick, and it actually detracts from your credibility as an organization. Instead of sinking to a low level of cheering for humans who get attacked by sharks, why not try and show a positive and less hateful message? No matter how far we’ve evolved, the fact remains that people are animals, too. So why do they fall exempt from “ethical treatment” you claim to stand for? If you want ethical treatment of animals, why dont you try to stop playing favorites and show some compassion for your fellow man?

  • Caleb says:

    This is way out of line. A detached leg would mean bleeding to death from tearing the femoral artery. Have we really stooped so low as to wishing death upon people treating animals cruely? Has that not put us on the same level as them? I personally disagree with this ad.

  • melissam says:

    Maybe the shark should go vegan!

  • Michael Essi says:

    Instead of everyone getting their panties in a bunch, it might be helpful to not have a knee-jerk reaction, but rather a moment of thought about this billboard’s underlying message. I love PETA for constantly jarring me, giving me cause to pause, and inspiring me to use my intelligence to reconsider things that are traditionally acceptable. I get PETA! As for the FOX news interview with Ingrid Newkirk, there was no mention of the millions of fish that are slaughtered daily and their pain and subsequent death. 800 stitches is minor in comparison. Thank you, Ms. Newkirk for representing the intelligence that is often underused by our species.

  • A says:

    I don’t mind it. Peta is controversial. Get over it. They got the shock value. Maybe the shark’s family was “offended” that the human was hunting them, or sending them to taxidermists to hang on his wall, or sending their meat to market, or ripping out their cartilage to put into little capsules for humans for “joint health”, or selling their teeth as necklaces, or showing them off as “prizes” in photographs, etc. Yes, the billboard does depict the shark as vicious, but wouldn’t you be? By all means Peta, BITE BACK! You did nothing wrong.

  • Rev. Meg says:

    From what I remember, the man who was bitten had been warned not to go into the water because a shark had been spotted, and he chose to go in despite the warning. He is fortunate not to have been killed. Perhaps next time someone warns him of a shark in the water, he will listen.

  • Reasonable Human says:

    After watching your clip on the Shark incident on the news. I feel that the new sign you would like to display is in very poor taste…..But that is what you do like about it….? I agree with the above individual..don’t further the fear against sharks….

  • steph says:

    someone should really reconcider this billboard – my 6 year old saw it and is convinced that sharks are vicious scary monsters – thanks for making my job harder. i resque bugs if they need help, and your teaching kids to hate certain species. this sucks. it’s going to cost me $75 to take him to an aquarium to learn that sharks aren’t monsters, and that they don’t prefer people. this is a definate FAIL.

  • Jess says:

    I have to agree with Shark Friend. Many people have a hard time sympathizing with sharks, which is a big issue right now as they are being killed in huge numbers in vile ways (cutting off their fins and dumping them back in the water to suffer and die slowly). I don’t see how putting out an add reinforcing their image as “people killers” is going to do anyone any good. Wouldn’t it be better to point people towards a source that emphasizes how rare shark attacks actually are, while pointing out that spear fishing increases your risk of attack because of the blood and bait that you are introducing in the water around you? There is a way to get the message across that violating ocean life increases your chances of being attacked without reinforcing harmful and fallacious stereotypes about sharks.

  • Concerned says:

    This is atrocious! First it makes animals look bad. It presents animals as being dangerous giving people fear and all the more reason to slaughter, harm, and viciously kill animals. I am appalled. The kind of message it sends is that PETA doesn’t care for animals or humans. Secondly death and harm to a human is not acceptable either. Yes humans can be cruel and heartless, and honestly i prefer animals to humans, but not all people are. What if these people didn’t deserve that at all? It makes it okay to use as a statement? Human life means less than animals? we are equal. We were both put on this earth to live. death to anything is unfortunate. Killing to make a point is absolutely horrendous. It sends a bad image to you. I am rethinking what you believe in. I want to save animals from pain, suffering, and death. I thought you were the perfect kind loving group that i could get involved with to really make a big difference in this world. But you break my heart when I see that you degrade animals when you should do the opposite.. I fully understand where you are coming from with this but its a nature thing. Humans invade their habitat and the animal gets scared and defensive. It happens all to often. Killing and testing in labs is not nature but it is humans being stupid again. Perhaps this is a better angle. We are invading their territory and that is why these attacks happen. It is still saying that maybe humans should respect animals and natural order or they are asking for a negative result. I am not an expert and maybe this doesnt make any sense. But i know that this ad is horrible. It hurts the animals just as much as humans.

  • Conscience says:

    Pulled from Wikipedia regarding bull sharks: “[Bull Sharks] are extremely territorial and attack animals that enter their territory. Since bull sharks often dwell in very shallow waters, they may be more dangerous to humans than any other species of shark.” What happened to that man is a tragedy and does not warrant in any shape or form promotion of the vegan lifestyle. Instead of investing in billboards that promote Go Vegan! through this rash and insensitive manner, why not raise a fundraiser to help the poor chap out? You can get positive publicity from acting kindly to humans rather than treating them as objects for your own campaign. As much as “ethical” treatment is deserving for Animals, advocates should set an example to, the very least, those of the same species. I know somewhere in PETA’s heart and vision lies good intention, but even the conception and the publishing of calling such a circumstance as payback without due reason is utterly disgusting. Will not PETA rise to a higher standard of ethics? If PETA wishes zealousness for the ethical treatment of animals, should it not start from being good and ethical to humans in the first place? I hope PETA does the right thing.

  • Kristof says:

    @Shark Friend: I don’t see how this furthers the fear of sharks. All I see are surfers who set the poor fish free to swim… Nice clip!

  • maybenot? says:

    I find this to be kind of disrespectful for the man who was bitten. What if he lost his life? If another human hurt him, you wouldn’t have created and posted ads implying that he deserved it… even if he was at fault. And he was spearfishing… like millions of people have been doing for centuries for survival. Does that mean everyone including ancient hunters should have deserved to be fatally bit by a shark? He wasn’t even even operating a mass fishing ship. “It would save a lot of lives all around.” …yes. Animal lives, that is. But human lives don’t matter, right? Protecting animals and creating awareness for animal rights is awesome and I’m not trying to say otherwise… but I don’t think this is the right way to do so.

  • RIDICULOUS says:

    This is an absurd ad. It portrays sharks as horrible man-eating animals. This ad will only confirm people’s fear of sharks and increase violence towards them. Who wants to protect an animal that will bite off their leg?

  • Britt says:

    I get what this article is trying to say, but its not as if ANYONE or ANYTHING deserves to die. I don’t agree with what those people were doing, but justifying their deaths and injuries is just low. I don’t think spear fishing justifies having your leg torn off. The others I sympathize more with, especially the bear and dog one, but the rest is almost like saying if a little kid steps on a spider on purpose, they deserve to get killed my spiders as a form of “justice”. And the animals were protecting themselves and the shark most likely just smelled blood in the water…

  • Zwabit says:

    i agree with shark friend..i’d say keep the report just lose the picture…

  • kriemhilt says:

    I understand Shark Friend’s concern but I do love this theme: Payback is Hell! and especially enjoyed a German news item about the Tsunami washing a major shark de-finning factory out to sea. Am sure I am not the only one who has cheered the goring of matadors and the bear attacks on hunters, just to mention a few Happy Endings.

  • Justin says:

    This ad makes me wanna kill all sharks.

  • SuperSoftBunnyHugs says:

    Shark Friend, the only thing wrong with the “human killer” image is that it’s sometimes true. Seriously, maybe if we all carried the “stereotype” in our mind about that potential risk factor (death or loss of limb) we wouldn’t feel so open to step into a shark’s home for our own enioyment.

  • VeganValerie says:

    PETA, I admire much of what you do, but sometimes I’m totally disgusted by your lack of sensitivity. I don’t like spearfishing, either, but this ad is heartless.

  • Ravi Madapati says:

    Yes please dont put up this ad. The idea is to sensitize people not make them hate sharks and think that sharks are just out to kill humans, when in fact its the other way round. Please take this ad off

  • Dave says:

    (LOL, Dropped her gun hunting mice) that has to be the funniest thing I have heard in a long time..If you are using a gun to hunt mice, you might want to recommend that person seek therapy….

  • Meat Lover says:

    I heard that the county that Peta wanted to have a billboard in, refuse them to do so. Thanks local government!

  • Anonymous says:

    I find this ad disgusting and offensive, both for animals and humans. Please don’t put this up. It incites violence and hate. It’s not about revenge o payback, it’s about living together happily in the same world.

  • Dana says:

    I agree with Shark Friend. This just perpetuates the negative stigma that sharks have on them, and that’s not a good thing. What with sharks moving closer inward to some shores due to over fishing and attacks becoming more frequent, something like this just reinforces the idea that sharks are out to get humans. It reminds me of Jaws. A film that didn’t do sharks any justice.

  • maybenot? says:

    I find this extremely disrespectful for the man who was bit. Are you saying he deserved it? What if he lost his life? If another human hurt him, you wouldn’t have portrayed his injury in the same way as you are now. He was spearfishing… like millions people have been doing for centuries for survival. Does that mean everyone including the ancient hunters should have deserved to be fatally bit by a shark? He wasn’t even operating like a mass fishing ship. “It would save a lot of lives all around”.. yes. Animal lives. But human lives don’t matter, right? Protecting animals and animal rights is great and i’m not trying to say otherwise… but i don’t think this is this is the right way to promote it.

  • victoria says:

    i realize you’re animal activists and all and i don’t condone things like that but… does someone really /deserve to be killed or injured for that? You make it sound like you believe this.

  • ArmyRangerVeteranMike says:

    Bravo to all the Animals that fight back and even claim the lives of these senseless barbarians and useless hunters. There is nothing more rewarding to see as when an innocent animal fights back to save their own lives, I wish this would happen more often and be largely publicised for ALL hunters and animal killers and abusers alike to know that they could be next. Kudos to ALL the people that work for Peta and for all the work you do.

  • Believer says:

    Shark Friend is right, in incites hatred against a beautiful creature who is being hunted out and killed because it has been attacking humans.

  • Razer says:

    That picture is just poor taste. If a shark hurts someone, you don’t need to advertise it.

  • Carlotta says:

    Please take down this ad. People need to learn that sharks are not enemies, and writing how a man got bitten like that won’t help. We want everyone to love animals, not despise them, and saying they are ‘fighting back’ will only lead to more killing of them.

  • Carolyn says:

    I completely agree with shark friend. Finding support for animal rights should not stem from fear and mockery of tragic deaths of people who don’t support our cause. Saying “serves them right” does nothing to find support for our cause, and instead draws resentment towards us and fear to the animals were trying to save.

  • TSharkey says:

    I have to agree with Shark friend. Though I’m against animal abuse and understand the stance being made here, I don’t believe people react well to this type of ad, it’s not going to change anyone and it certainly won’t help the image some have of sharks. This will only instill fear, giving people more reason to not care about the needless shark killing.

  • SD says:

    I agree with ‘Shark Friend’. This makes it look like sharks are man-eaters! We need to show that sharks aren’t man-eaters and to get humans to protect them. This just makes people want to hunt and eradicate them even more as they see them as killers. That poster hasn’t done anything for their image at all.

  • Angelica says:

    Well deserved, but the logo makes the them seem like they’re savages! And how can we protecr them and get people to protect them if they seem like killers??

  • Dave says:

    I get the sentiment but agree with the previous commenter. I wonder if this just does more harm than good in terms of people’s perception of PETA and their willingness to listen to so many of its merits.

  • kathy says:

    I think most people will see the dark humor in your poster. Thumbs up.

  • Melissa says:

    I think this is PERFECT! People always how horrible it is when an animal attack a Human, when the only thing that they are doing is defending themselves. If people would leave animals alone, and by this I mean, stop eating them, hunting them, torturing them, usung them for fur/leather those animals would not want to get EVEN. GOOD JOB PETA!!!!!!

  • Shark Friend says:

    PETA, please don’t put this ad up. Sharks are already feared by people, and feared animals always have a harder time getting people to sympathize for them and care about them. Please don’t further the fear against sharks. By doing this, it enforces thier ‘human killer’ image. A organization like PETA, I though, would have more common sense.