Shocking video has emerged online showing a group of fishermen in China brutally butchering a whale shark alive, cutting the majestic animal to pieces as it struggles for its last breaths.
The video was apparently filmed with a cell phone and uploaded on Weibo, according to the Daily Mail, where it immediately sparked outrage among animal rights activists and shark conservationists. Difficult to watch, the clip depicts a crowd of onlookers gathered around a whale shark as the giant animal struggles to breathe out of water. As the video begins, several men bring a crosscut saw to bear on the shark, slicing away its tail fin. They then go on to butcher the shark, cutting away sections of its body.
[Warning: Graphic Footage]
As the individual who is filming walks to the front of the whale shark, the animal’s gills can be seen moving, indicating that the suffering beast is still alive. When the camera takes in the shark’s face, its mouth opens and closes spasmodically, struggling as it suffocates. While the animal continues to suffer, one of the fisherman brutally hacks off its dorsal fin. By the time the clip concludes, the camera has moved away from the whale shark’s face, revealing that the fishermen have sliced the animal’s body into sections while it is still alive.
— Taiwanese Animators (@NMAtv) August 7, 2015
Roughly 20 people stand nearby in the video, watching the whale shark’s demise, as the South China Morning Post notes. Several of the onlookers express dismay, gasping in horror and calling the fishermen’s actions cruel. While it is unclear exactly where the video was taken, the cameraman told reporters that he filmed it at Yangjiang in China’s southern Guangdong province.
— AnimalAbusers (@AnimalAbusers) August 5, 2015
One of the largest sharks in existence, the whale shark is classified as vulnerable. While the species is protected under Appendix II of CITES and the Convention for Migratory Species, Ali Hood, Director of Conservation at The Shark Trust, noted that local enforcement of those treaties can sometimes lag behind their implementation.
“The footage of a Whale Shark being butchered whilst apparently still alive has appalled Shark Trust supporters. To see such a magnificent, placid animal treated with such little dignity demonstrates to the Shark Trust how vital it is to continue to raise awareness as to the importance of sharks and their relatives to a healthy, balanced marine environment.”
— Loama Resort (@loama_maldives) July 28, 2015
Last year, footage of another whale shark spread online when a Chinese fisherman strapped it to the top of a truck while transporting it to a market. As the Inquisitr reported at the time, the unfortunate whale shark died in transit.
[Image via the South China Morning Post]