A FISHERMAN has responded to the public backlash caused by footage of him smoking using the carcass of a baby shark as a bong.
The shocking video sparked outrage on social media after it was posted recently by the Facebook page 'Fried Fishing', which follows the antics of a group of young Australian fishermen.
In the clip, a member of the group called Billy is shown holding the lifeless remains of a dead infant bull shark – with a crude carb inserted into the top of its head and a mouthpiece protruding from below its dorsal fin.
With the children's song Baby Shark playing in the background, Billy then lights the bong and inhales before appearing to hum along to the tune as he exhales.
The post quickly received thousands of comments condemning the young fisherman's act, while others argued he had the right to do whatever he wanted with his catch and claimed people were being too sensitive.
One enraged woman wrote: "All living creatures have a right to exist, what you did was f****** disgraceful! I feel sorry for your family and friends being associated with you!"
While another user commented: "The shark is dead though, I don’t get why it offends people so much... Can’t have a joke about anything anymore."
In the wake of the outcry online over the video, Billy bit back – accusing the media of running "false stories" about the incident and insisting he was smoking tobacco and not marijuana, which is illegal in Australia.
"Lets clear some air up on this... the shark was caught by my mate fishing when we were fishing for mangrove jacks on Friday," he wrote on the Fried Fishing page.
"After two nights left in the ice box I came up with the idea. There is no possible way it was alive.
"It was tobacco id happily take a drug test to prove."
In a series of now deleted follow-up posts, Fried Fishing revealed police had given Billy a visit over the video, while Billy himself said he would be stepping away from social media because of the fierce negative responses he had received – including death threats.
"I never thought id have to do this but today has become too much 4 admins run this page and all of us have spent our whole day filtering removing and coping abusive messages as far as to death threats,” Billy wrote.
"But due to todays [sic] recent events I have to walk away from social media my mental health is way more important."
Australia's waters are home to several endangered shark species, and numbers of some subspecies along the Queensland coast have declined by up to 90% over the past five decades.
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there have been 536 unprovoked shark attacks in Australia between 1958 and 2016 – second only to the United States at 1,104.