The Hamptons Police Department took some heat from the local surfing community after arresting a local big wave rider for his role in the death of an immature great white shark off Montauk over the weekend. Finn Squalocibo was paddling out past the breakers near Ditch Plains beach on Friday morning when the 6-foot predator got hold of his arm. He was able to break free safely, only tearing his thick wetsuit, but the beast went back for a second bite, taking a jagged piece of Squalocibo’s fiberglass board in the process.
Later, the shark was found washed up dead below the bluffs, apparently due to mortal wounds it received while trying to swallow the sharp surfboard. A necropsy performed on Saturday revealed Squalocibo’s name on the board fragment, giving police solid proof of his guilt, though tales of his deadly encounter were already circulating around Montauk.
“Mr. Squalocibo clearly did not believe he had anything to hide, as he shared his story with just about anyone in town who’d listen,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch said after the surfer’s arrest on Sunday. “What he didn’t know is that great white sharks are on the endangered list, and one must have a special permit to catch or kill this vulnerable species.”
Despite his unique circumstances, Hamptons PD says they will punish the surfer to the fullest extent of the law. Meanwhile, local environmentalists are expressing concern that fiberglass surfboards could harm other sharks in future attacks. They are asking police and the Hamptons Municipal Board officials to consider new legislation that would ban such surfboards and instead require surfers to use foam or heavy wooden boards that would not splinter under the stress of even the most powerful shark bites.
“We are looking at all options to protect our local marine life and ensure these majestic creatures won’t get any unwanted surprises the next time they attack a surfer, or any other water sports enthusiast for that matter,” Hirsch explained.
In response to area surfers, who were furious over the decision to arrest Squalocibo, Hirsch said they must work harder to deter such attacks, noting, “We’ve found that employing a smooth and steady tone with these animals, perhaps saying something like, ‘Easy, big fella, easy,’ should go a long way toward relaxing most sharks in most situations.”