Creature washed up on shore? How to respond and what not to do

It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.  Sometimes something goes wrong, and a large creature gets washed up on a beach.  There’s not exactly some childhood training protocol like “don’t take candy from strangers” regarding how to handle these situations when they do happen- especially when people didn’t grow up on the ocean.  
Yesterday morning a hammerhead shark washed up on our beach.  It was already dead when the day began.  Now, it is nearing the end of the tourist season down here, so the beaches weren’t as packed as they could have been, but there are always tourists here.  Most come from places further north, and many are from landlocked states.  For many, this is the first time they’ve spent any time near the ocean.
Hammerhead Shark.  Approx. 8-9 feet long.

Jay took photographs as respectfully as possible.  In doing so, he also documented people being very disrespectful to this creature.  We’re showing these photos to help raise awareness of what to do and what not to do should you ever encounter a situation like this.

What to do if you find a large creature washed up on shore

Do- If the animal is still alive, CALL FOR HELP RIGHT AWAY.
Do- If the animal is no longer alive, notify the local authorities.  If the local Fish and Wildlife has already been informed, there will likely be a sign posted in the sand near the animal.  You do not have to contact Fish and Wildlife by yourself- simply notify your local non-emergency and tell them what you have seen and where you are.
Do- Be respectful to the passing of this creature’s life.  
The shark came in with the tide.

Please show care and respect for the creatures.  Here’s some very useful tips on WHAT NOT TO DO.




The animal is not a photo prop.  This is not a part of the tourist attractions you’ve come down to witness and experience on our beautiful Florida beaches.  This was a living, breathing creature that demands respect and reverence.  What this girl is doing in this photo is no different than posing all thumbs-up for her peeps next to a dead human being.  Have some class.  Show some respect.


Again- the shark is not a photo prop.  This is not an opportunity to show all of your friends and family up north how you and your partner have slain a mighty beast.  I also can not stress enough how stupid it is to stand between this shark and the ocean itself.  All it will take is one wave and that 500 pound animal will be pinning you and the little wife down in the sand, under the surf.


One more time- The shark is not a photo prop.  There are so many reasons why this behavior is a bad idea. Even if we ignore the TOTAL DISREGARD for respecting this animal, this man is risking his own safety to be an idiot on camera.  Shortly after this shot, a large wave came up and splashed over the shark, covering the idiot on the ground.  He spluttered about coughing and choking on sea water.  None of the other people looking on the beach gave any motion to assist him, which kind of gives me hope for humanity as a whole.
I understand that a hammerhead washing up on a populated Florida beach, peppered with condos and resorts is not exactly an everyday thing.  I understand the urge to look.  I even understand the urge to take photos and maybe even touch the creature.  But if you absolutely must do these things, PLEASE DO THEM WITH REVERENCE AND RESPECT FOR THE LIFE OF THE ANIMAL.  I would also like to point out that Fish and Wildlife has some pretty harsh penalties for touching these creatures.  Think of it as an incentive for not being a total dick.
Jay and I were as respectful to this loss of majestic life as we could be.  We did our best to honor the creature, and tried our best to prevent others from being disrespectful.  Obviously, as indicated from the few shots above, we weren’t as successful as we would have liked to have been.  
I don’t blame Jay for taking these shots.  He’s a photographer- it’s what he does.  We decided to get these shots specifically to write this, and hopefully help others prevent this in the future. 
Thanks, guys.
About Pea Kay

Pea Kay, otherwise known as Tonks, The Unhinged Knitter, moonlights at night as an infamous Cupcake Warrior. To learn more about what she does, visit the core pages of!


  1. Oh my god.. that poor creature. :((( Did anyone go to help it..?? Where authorities called to come save it..? O.O How could anyone stand there and do that while an innocent animal died??? *totally shocked and saddened here* And people say sharks are the monsters…

  2. The shark washed up in the early morning, already passed away. Florida Fish and Wildlife had already been contacted when we arrived to the beach. The shark was removed with care not long after we were on the beach. A sign was posted in the sand near the shark.

    Seeing these people be so disrespectful was disturbing and heartbreaking. We did our damndest to prevent disrespect. The few images posted here don't truly show how hard we tried to help keep respectful discourse… Thankfully people in power arrived very quickly.

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