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Diver Operators Accused Of Illegally Feeding Sharks

WEST PAlM BEACH (CBSMiami) - Four employees of a two Palm Beach dive boat operations have been charged with illegally feeding sharks in state waters - a practice which has been banned for a dozen years.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched their investigation into the operations after receiving sever several complaints that sharks were being fed by hand off the coast of Palm Beach County during charter dive trips.

One complainant said she was on a dive trip where the sharks were fed and they became so aggressive she had to get out of the water.

The FWC and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office conducted two separate investigations involving two northern Palm Beach County dive charter operators.

On February 8th, deputies from the sheriff's office dive team took part in a dive trip on board Emerald Charters of Jupiter.  During the dive,  employee Randall Jordan used a milk carton with fish chunks to lure the sharks in and then fed the by hand. Thomas Smith was operating the vessel during the dive.

On February 22nd, the deputies took another dive trip on board the vessel Miss Jackie, which is owned by Luis Roman of Orlando and operated by Toni Crumrine.  The boat was used by the Calypso Dive Charters.

During this trip, deputies noted that Roman feeding a goliath grouper and a lemon shark. Roman also tried to lure more sharks to the location by shaking a milk crate filled with barracuda chunks.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office which charged Jordan, Smith, Roman and Crumrine with operating a vessel for hire within state waters to allow passengers to observe fish feeding. Jordan and Roman were also charged with fish feeding. These are second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

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