If you thought “Shark Tank” was just a reality TV show where business entrepreneurs try to raise money from financial sharks, think again. A Dutchess County man has been operating a business in Dutchess County using real tanks and real sharks.
It was announced today by New York Attorney General Letitia James and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos that 40-year-old Joshua Seguine of LaGrangeville was put out of the shark business and pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of sharks with intent to sell.
He had been keeping seven live sandbar sharks at his house in an aboveground swimming pool, which was serving as his backyard shark tank.
According to James and Seggos, Seguine had been under investigation since 2017 when he was arrested in Georgia for driving without a license and having five sharks in a tank in the back of his truck. He admitted he was transporting the sharks to New York and intended to sell them. A Georgia Natural Resources Investigator got in touch with New York’s DEC, which launched an investigation.
The DEC discovered he was conducting business under the name Aquatic Apex Life LLC and had offered sharks for sale on a website he had established.
Investigators found he was keeping seven live sandbar sharks at his house. State law prohibits the possession of the sharks without obtaining a special license. A search uncovered two dead leopard sharks, one dead hammerhead shark, and the snout of a smalltooth sawfish, which is an endangered species.
Biologists from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium at Coney Island worked with the DEC, assessed the live sharks and transferred them to the Riverhead aquarium. The sharks were subsequently moved to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.
Seguine pleaded guilty in the Town of LaGrange Justice Court to illegal commercialization of fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and wildlife. He was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to a conditional discharge.
“Let this serve as a loud and clear message: We will not tolerate anyone who preys on protected species to line their pockets,” James said. “My office will continue to enforce the laws that safeguard our wildlife, and we will hold accountable those who violate them.”
Seggos added, “It is critical that we work to protect endangered species that are taken from their natural habitats and sold for profit.”
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