While the exact date of O’Donnell’s trip remains unknown – Quartiano states that the photo is of one of the many excursions O’Donnell took with him in the past two to three years – it was long before Florida banned the killing of hammerheads on Jan.
completely legal, the actress has drawn a furor of criticism from shark and
ocean activists. Sarasota marine conservationist Erik Brush told the Sun Sentinel "Right now
sharks are the most endangered animals around. This [O’Donnell’s participation]
is basically an endorsement. It sends the message that it's an OK activity. And
this is not an activity that we want celebrities endorsing."
Neil Hammerschlag, director of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
and research assistant professor at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School
of Marine and Atmospheric Science compared O’Donnell’s legal fishing endeavor to
the illegally killing of an endangered species. "She wouldn't go out hunting
tigers. I don't see her pictured in front of some tiger strung up," he said.
"Yet these are the tigers of the ocean, they're a top predator and they're in
serious decline. Yet we kill them for sport."
The attacks against O’Donnell continued through social media sites like
Twitter and Facebook. While O’Donnell and her representatives have remained mum
on the subject Quartiano has publically sprung to her defense saying O’Donnell’s
"a great angler. She's very conservation-minded. We've caught a lot of fish and
released a lot of fish. We've also caught fish for eating and trophies."
Quartiano continued by saying anglers aren’t depleting shark populations, rather
commercial fishing fleets are. "These conservation guys are hitting the wrong
target," he said.