Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission caught a man illegally feeding a shark in state waters last month.
The feeding of sharks has been banned in Florida since 2002.
But, according to the FWC, Randall Jordan of Emerald Charters of Jupiter, and three others from Calypso Dive Charters of Lake Park were busted feeding sharks by hand from a milk crate filled with chum.
Jordan and three others with misdemeanors.
But Jordan says that it's a harmless activity, and that he's never been attacked or injured by a shark whenever he's fed them.
"People are afraid of sharks because of 'Jaws,'" he told the Sun-Sentinel. "When people see that the sharks are not going to rip them to shreds, then they're not afraid of them and they begin to love sharks and appreciate them as apex predators that we need. Second, by monetizing sharks, by making money from people seeing them, it makes it so that sharks are worth a lot more money alive than dead."
The FWC working with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, had been conducting a couple of investigations involving the two dive charter operators. Tips came in when local divers began to complain that sharks in Palm Beach County were coming up to them in an aggressive manner. The sharks may have been expecting to be fed.
On February 8th, the two agencies went on a dive trip on board Emerald Charters. That's where investigators took video of Jordan feeding sharks by hand.
According to an FWC report, the charter was followed by another boat with investigators who were taking GPS readings of Emerald Charters to confirm that the shark feedings were happening within state waters, which the FWC says is up to 3 nautical miles from the nearest point of a Florida coastline.