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Outcry over shark-cruelty threatens popularity of local reality show

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - What began with a video of a shark being dragged full speed behind a boat, has led to a social media hunt for more photos and videos from the people on this boat.

"When I had first seen the video, it made me literally sick to my stomach," says Ashley Tarter. "The other pictures and videos that follow, it just got worse and worse."

Several photos with other wildlife, some including taunting hashtags like #FWCsMostWanted and #HatersGonnaHate, are flooding Facebook pages like the one now managed by Tarter.

"These boys, I'm not going to call them men, should get the right punishment," she says.

The page is titled "Boycott Siesta Key MTV" referencing the reality TV series set on the island, which premieres Monday. The reason: cast member Alex Kompothecras admitted he was friends with one of the suspects involved.

"It's not portraying southwest Florida or Siesta Key in the way we want to be portrayed," says Tarter.

Many ABC7 viewers are asking why charges have not been filed. We talked to attorney Andrea Mogensen - who is not directly involved in this investigaton. She says she believes Florida's animal cruelty laws do prohibit overdriving, tormenting or unnecessary mutilation of any animal.

"The Florida statutes the way I understand them do not differentiate between wildlife and domestic animals. It literally says you can not torture any animal," says Mogensen.

An FWC spokesperson confirmed that the agency is receiving numerous additional pictures and videos from the public, and are "looking into this information."

They have called the initial video "disheartening and disturbing."