On May 5th, the official Weibo account for the Beihai city government in southern Guangxi shared a set of beautiful photos, showing a giant whale shark swimming happily in the waters near one of the city’s offshore oilfields.
Just two days later, they shared more pictures of the enormous sea creature, and these went viral, but for entirely different reasons. In the pictures, posted on May 7th, the gentle giant is shown slaughtered, hanging in the harbor.
The images quickly went viral, with netizens voicing their disgust at the people who had killed this beautiful, harmless and nationally-protected animal. “I would like to string up whoever did this,” one netizen wrote.
This isn’t the first time that netizens have been shocked by the slaughter of a whale shark. Last August, a video emerged that showed a whale shark being brutally slaughtered alive in public on a Guangdong shore. The video exposed a pair of men cutting a whale shark into pieces with a giant saw, while being watched by a mix of disgusted and curious onlookers.
The whale shark is a second-class nationally-protected animal in China. Regulation states that whale sharks must be set free right away if caught by fisherman. While it’s illegal to purchase or sell whale sharks, it seems as though the things just keep happening to get caught in the nets of Chinese fishermen.
In 2014, a Fujian fisherman caught a whale shark, and not knowing what it was, brought the carcass back into town hoping for a big pay day. Unfortunately for him, the local government said that it couldn’t be sold off for profit, so they auctioned it off at charity prices instead. That’ll show em!
The same thing happened in Zhejiang province in 2014 as well as in Shandong province three year ago.
When not caught by careless fishermen, whale sharks can live as long as 70 years to 100 years. Based on biologists’ records, the largest whale shark ever discovered was 12.65 meters long and 21.5 tons
[Images via NetEase]