Valentine Thomas’ love of spearfishing has recently elevated her to social media fame. The young French-Canadian woman has been dubbed the “Spearfishing Huntress.”
Through her use of Facebook and Instagram, she’s become a social media superstar, attracting both fans and critics. As of this writing, her Instagram account has attracted more than 10,000 followers in the last 48 hours, Uproxx reports.
She also has a YouTube channel, where she posts videos of her spearfishing adventures.
At only 28-years-old, Thomas is a vocal advocate of sustainable eating, and says she consumes everything she kills. Given the enormous size of her bounty, she says she often shares her fish with family, friends and locals.
The pictures she posts are striking. She’s often in a bikini, holding massive sea creatures that she’s killed with a spear.
Thomas is a world record holder, BuzzFeed’s Stephanie McNeal reports. She once “speared the world’s largest Atlantic Jack.”
Ever since she began posting her pictures on Facebook and Instagram, her social media popularity has exploded. After the very first picture of Thomas with a fish was posted to Facebook, she woke up with one thousand friend requests, Buzzfeed reports.
With her social media fame has come both sharp criticism and adoring praise. Vegans have called her a killer, and one Facebook user recently titled her “Jack the Ripper.”
But in Thomas’ view, spearfishing is actually respectful of the environment. “You catch exactly what you want to eat and there is no ‘collateral damages’ to it,” she told Uproxx.
“I don’t do this because I enjoy killing things and because I enjoy fish suffering. I am just realistic about where food comes from! I have a great respect for my prey and I make sure that it doesn’t suffer,” she told Buzzfeed News.
Thomas insists that she respects her prey. “I shoot them in the brain and they die immediately,” she told the Daily Mail.
“If you buy fish from a supermarket, why am I the bad guy?” she continued.
Thomas has also been subjected to unfair sexism. One of her Instagram posts was recently featured on an account called “Spear Sluts,” which features pictures of beautiful woman catching fish.
Many of her followers question whether she’s the one catching these enormous fish, suggesting her boyfriend might be behind her success.
Although Thomas says she shrugs off these critics, “it definitely bothers my boyfriend. People don’t believe I can do things like this,” she told Uproxx.
Thankfully, Thomas has tons of adoring fans. She’s received marriage proposals from her followers as well as free equipment from sponsors.
Thomas hopes to use her social media presence to raise awareness about oceanic conservation. “[Spearfishers] have the front seat to see how the ocean is degrading, how the population of fish is going down so quickly, and how humans are having a massive negative impact on the ecology,” she told Buzzfeed.
This July, Thomas will take a two week trip to Zanzibar in hopes of spearing a new world record. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more awesome pictures.
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