'It was only a joke!' Shark rider speaks about those photos
A SUNSHINE Coast teenager snapped straddling and cuddling a shark carcass that washed up on Marcoola Beach says the pictures were only intended as a joke.
Amber Van Kampen made the front page of yesterday's Sunshine Coast Daily after she sent in photos of herself on top of the bronze whaler and another of her cuddling up next to it.
It caused a media storm on the Coast, and generated debate on social media.
The Daily's readers have been split over the images - some say it was humorous and no harm was done, while others have hit out at Ms Van Kampen for her actions.'
The 19-year-old, who is studying bio medical science at university, had just finished surfing about 6.45am on Tuesday when beach-goers told her of the shark on the beach.
She said she meant no disrespect by the photos and apologised to anyone offended.
"The reaction has been crazy. I didn't expect people to be so mad about it," she said yesterday morning.
"It was a joke. I thought it was a cool opportunity and I didn't mean any disrespect. I love animals."
One reader accused Ms Van Kampen of squashing the shark by sitting on it, but she insists that was not the case.
"I didn't fully sit on it and I wasn't squashing it. I'd never do that," she said.
The debate attracted almost 1200 comments on the Daily's Facebook page by Friday morning.
WHAT YOU SAID
- How is it disrespectful? Are the shark's family and friends going to see this picture and be offended? It's a bit of harmless FUN. Get over it. Keryn Mather
- So it's okay to slaughter and eat animals. But don't you ever sit on one Aaron Pethers
- I don't think you should straddle anything dead. No mater what it is its so very disrespectful. Natalie Marie Sullivan
- It's a bit of a disgust, if anyone asks me, what's she trying to prove sitting on a dead shark??? Would she do that to a dog if it were dead, or to a dead cow? Renee Jacqueline Kieboom
- No different to a fisherman having pic taken with his catch. Stop being a nanny state Craig Keegan