This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
You can make a bong out of pretty much anything. Gatorade bottles, obviously. Furbies. Shane Warne’s head. Recently, an Australian fisherman turned a baby bull shark into a bong. By putting a cone-piece in the dead animal’s head and a mouthpiece below its fin, Billy Brislane created what may well be the world’s first ever shark bong. Then he uploaded a video of himself taking a hit while the song “Baby Shark” played in the background. And then, predictably, he copped some searing social media backlash.
Billy, the moderator of popular Facebook group Fried Fishing, has made his name on stunts like this. His page boasts more than 25,000 followers at the time of writing, and is stacked with videos of the guy hanging crabs from his nipples and a fish from his penis. He’s essentially the Steve-O of Australia’s fishing community. But the shark bong footage seems to have really struck a nerve among viewers, prompting criticism from a rabble of online commentators and media outlets.
"Humans need to do better than this. Sharks are not trophies, toys, or bongs… Shame on this person and anyone who thinks this is even remotely okay,” wrote one commenter. Another said “You’re off your head.”
In his own defense, Billy responded to his detractors by claiming that the shark was “caught by my mate when we were fishing for mangrove jacks [red snapper] on Friday,” and “it was tobacco” in the cone-piece.
“After two nights [with the shark] left in the ice box I came up with the idea,” he said. “There is no possible way it was alive.”
Others have waded into the debate to take a similar line of argument, emphasizing the fact that the shark was already dead when Billy turned it into a bong. “I don’t get why it offends people so much,” wrote one Facebook user. “Can’t make a joke about anything anymore.”
Billy's no stranger to media attention. Just last month the New South Welshman made headlines after catching five large bull sharks in the Macleay River, near Coffs Harbour—some of which he said had stingrays, baby sharks, and dolphin in their stomachs. He's since announced that he plans to “walk away from social media” in the wake of the shark bong backlash, however, citing abusive messages and death threats, as well as his own concerns for his mental health. In a follow-up post, he claimed that the ongoing complaints have led to visits from the authorities.
“I just want to say thanks to the bunch of people who have complained to the point of the police visiting,” he wrote. “Honestly, I quit.”
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.