Gutted Shark Found Hanging From Rafters At School

A gutted shark was found hanging from rafters at a school, confusing many in what may have been a senior prank or something more sinister.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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gutted shark

Sharks are a common part of life in The Sunshine State of Florida. They are even frequently used as school mascots, as is the case in point at Ponte Vedra High School Near Jacksonville, Florida. But gutted sharks hanging from rafters? That is definitely not a normal occurrence. It may have been a senior prank, or even something more sinister, according to some reports.

Yahoo News reported that the immense carcass of a shark, with most of its insides removed, was found hanging from the rafters of the main staircase at the Ponte Vedra High School on Thursday, May 5th. Pictures shared on social media from students show the grotesque gutted shark. It appeared hoisted up with ropes, and was said to be quite smelly.

A local news outlet, WJXT, reported that school officials and authorities believe the gutted shark was the work of five students. Investigators are now questioning them. Some believe it may have been part of a senior prank, as the school mascot is, in fact, a shark. Still, the gag remains a baffling mystery to many.

For one thing, many people are left wondering how a group of five high school teens pulled off such an act. It was initially speculated to be a gutted bull shark, which can weigh anywhere from 200 to 500 pounds. Additionally, the St. Johns County School District said that the grounds were locked and secured at the time it would have been hung. Surveillance footage has been handed over to the police, and an investigation is ongoing as many animal rights groups decry the act and call for strict punishment. 

There is currently an online petition, nearing the allotted signatures needed, calling for prosecution “to the fullest extend of the law” for those found to be involved in the gutted shark incident. It currently has 9,783 out of 10,000 needed signatures. The Sun reported that groups like One Protest are also speaking out against the happening. Saying that this type of behavior needs to be penalized, they called on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to act swiftly.

The FWC did respond and found that the gutted shark was not obtained in any illegal manner. News4Jax reported that the students obtained the gutted shark from an anonymous fisherman. The 5 students were fishing when a nearby fisherman caught the confirmed bull shark. They reportedly bought it off of him for $100 and stored it in ice at one student’s home for the evening. Additionally, the report details that they wheeled it into the school grounds and used a pulley system to hoist it up. A marine biologist confirmed it was a bull shark, which is legal to possess according to the FWC. 

Now that it has been confirmed that the gutted shark incident was a senior prank, the school district reported disciplinary measures being applied to those involved. News4Jax stated that the district issued a level four discipline, which typically includes no senior activities, such as graduation, suspension, possible expulsion, and more. Meant to be a harmless gag or not, the school made it clear to future students that there would be much larger “fish to fry” if an act like this ever is considered on school grounds again.