A Chinese fisherman netted a 14-foot-long 4,000 pound whale shark over the weekend, and was able to strap the carcass to the roof of a truck and haul it to a fish market in Xiaozhi.
Fishing for the endangered whale shark is illegal in China, but Fujian province Captain Cai Chengzhu claims that the massive fish was accidently caught in his nets, and died while his crew tried to release it.
“It's believed that the giant creature broke the net and got inside to eat the fish we caught. It was really unfortunate and we did our best to free it, but having caught it and because it was already dead, it seemed a shame to waste it," Chengzhu commented.
The fisherman was hoping to get between 10,000 and 20,000 yuan (between $1618.52 and $3237.03 USD) for his hard-to-conceal whale shark, before being nabbed by Fujian fishery officials.
— WFTV Eyewitness News (@WFTV) August 4, 2014
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) August 3, 2014
The shark ended up being processed, and the meat was auctioned off at charity prices.
— Blue Planet Society (@Seasaver) August 4, 2014
The whale shark, or Rhincodon typus, is a gentle, slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest of extant fish species. The shark is known to feed off fish trapped in nets, which corroborates Captain Chengzhu's explanation for his catch.
The whale shark lives in tropical and warm oceans and is an open ocean-dwelling species. Its average lifespan is roughly 70 years, though some individuals live for a century. The whale shark is the largest existing nonmammalian vertebrate, with the largest confirmed specimen weighing in at 47,000 pounds at 41.5 feet long.
Image via YouTube