Over the weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo signaled to the world that, whatever questions may exist about investigations into possible self-dealing by his administration, the effectiveness of his signature big-ticket projects, or his level of support for the Democratic Party, he has balls made of solid brass.

How? Why, he killed a 154 pound thresher shark off the coast of the Hamptons. Cuomo's chief of staff Melissa DeRosa took some time out from her weekend getting married to Cuomo press secretary-turned Uber spokesman Matthew Wing to trumpet her boss's great success.

Still doubting Cuomo's iron-like constitution and unflinching bravery? Thresher sharks are apex predators that prowl the sea depths worldwide and can live for as long as 50 years, grow as long as 15 feet, and kill prey with their ultra long, whip-like tails. The three types of threshers are also listed as vulnerable, though generally not endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It's not clear which kind Cuomo caught, but one, the bigeye thresher, is considered by the conservation group to be endangered in the northwestern Atlantic (i.e. here) and catching bigeye threshers is illegal in New York state.

The federal government regulates the fishing of threshers but does not consider them to be endangered.

Conservationists and shark lovers around the world lashed out on Twitter after Cuomo and DeRosa posted photos of the governor with the trophy fish, which Cuomo apparently caught with his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

The (strong, very masculine, not wimpy) governor posed with the shark on the dock of Oakland's Marina in Hampton Bays, which hosts an annual shark-fishing tournament.

United Nations patron of the oceans Lewis Pugh told the Guardian the killing and Cuomo's publicizing it are "abhorrent" and undercut shark preservation efforts.

"The environment is the primary issue on the global agenda, so it is extraordinary that a senior political could be so ignorant about it," Pugh said. "Apex predators such as sharks are crucial for the ocean ecosystems. For a public figure to kill such an animal and then boast about it on social media is dangerously irresponsible. This shows a clear lack of judgment and calls to question his capability as a public leader."

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration recently looked into the question of whether thresher sharks should be protected as endangered and found that, though thresher populations declined by 63-80 percent from 1986- 2000, they seem to have stabilized in much of the world, and are bouncing back in some places. Still, the feds cited recreational fishing as one of the top three threats to both common and bigeye threshers, saying of common threshers, as "highly prized game fish, they are valuable target species, which increases their susceptibility to being overfished."

Governor's Office spokesman Richard Azzopardi sent this statement:

"This is an edible game fish that is indigenous to New York waters and catching them is allowable under both state and federal regulations."

In 2013, Cuomo signed into law a bill banning the possession and sale of shark fins. The legislation mostly affected Chinese restaurants serving shark fin soup, and included an exemption for recreational fishing. At the time, Cuomo condemned the practice of killing sharks for their fins, saying, "Not only is the process inhumane, but it also affects the natural balance of the oceanic ecosystem. With this new law, New York will be doing its part to help preserve this important species and maintain a stable environment for them."


Shortly after the publication of this article, Governor's Office spokesman Richard Azzopardi sent a one-line email that reads as follows:

"Your post is a joke."

Update 2:

At least they ate it.

Update 3:

Professor Colin Simpfendorfer, director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University in Australia and co-chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, writes that though thresher sharks are classified as vulnerable, they "can be fished sustainably" with the help of rules such as a one-shark per trip limit.

Given this, he said, "I do not see anything wrong with the governor having caught this fish. The IUCN Shark Specialist Group supports the sustainable use of sharks and this fits with this policy."