Before we get to the slaughter and unceremonious display of a whale shark in China that’s sparked international outrage let’s just bang out a few quick whale shark facts so those of you who aren’t familiar with the species understand why this is a big deal:
1) The whale shark is the largest species of fish in the world, measuring up to 45-feet-long.
2)They are HUGE for tourism, with divers and ecotourists worldwide spending tens of millions of dollars annually in hopes of seeing a whale shark.
3) The whale shark is a migratory species and this has led to scientists having no idea how many whale shares there are in the world, so it could very well be at endangered numbers and nobody would know. The species is classified as ‘vulnerable’ though due to it’s very long lifespan.
4) Hunting and slaughtering whale sharks is banned in most of the civilized world, with Taiwan and China being among the handful of places in the world where whale sharks are still hunted.
Get it? Got it? Good. Here’s what happened in China:
The fish was spotted swimming near an oil field in China and hours later it was photographed after being caught, slaughtered, and strung up for the whole world to see. People are PISSED, the DailyMail reports:
The images have been shared online and have outraged Chinese internet users.
On Facebook, Lee An wrote: ‘Why did they kill the shark? Barbarians.’
While Ed D Vash said: ‘So what happened to the fishermen who illegally killed this gentle giant.’
While on China’s Twitter like Weibo people have been upset about the capture of the animal.
‘Li Ziyan 49014’ said: ‘This looks like a baby shark by its size. Human beings are too cruel. ‘
While ‘Yu luo chi tang 2’ commented: ‘I feel so sad to see it killed. Why do we have to slaughter it in such a cruel way?
‘Every time when I read reports like this, I don’t want to keep reading. The more we kill, the closer we are to the end of the world.’
A quick Twitter search of ‘Whale Shark‘ will show you that the outrage has already jumped China and made it to America, where we care more about our protected species than our homeless.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this in China. Just take a look at this photo that was snapped back in 2014:
I wouldn’t say that I’m ready bomb China over this but I do think it’s pretty fucked up. That single fish could’ve brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy for ecotourism. Money people would’ve spent to dive the waters in hopes of seeing a whale shark. Instead that fish was chopped up and shipped to only God knows where to be sold under the name of some other species, because nobody wants to eat whale shark. I don’t know the story of those fishermen though, maybe they’re strapped for cash and $$$$ to pay for a dying child’s surgery. I’ll reserve judgment for another day, I guess.
Btw, that feature image above is a photo I recently took at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta where they have two whale sharks on display. It’s one of the most highly trafficked aquariums in the world, and it brings in millions of dollars each year for marine research. So there’s that.
For more on this story you can click on over to the Daily Mail.