Fishermen Slaughter One of the World's Largest Animals
Whale shark's killing sparks outcry in China
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2016 2:30 PM CDT
In this file photo, a man take a picture of a dead whale shark washed ashore on Pandan Simo beach in Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Gembong Nusantara)

(Newser) – People around the world have taken to social media to rant about the killing of a whale shark off the coast of China a couple weeks ago—and while two fishermen have been arrested after selling it at market, it's unclear whether they'll be punished, reports Fusion. The saga began when images began to appear on social media site Weibo of an "old friend" who'd been visiting the same oil rig for several years in a row, reports the BBC. Just two days later, images of a whale shark hanging lifeless from a winch also surfaced, and two fishermen identified as Liao and Huang were quickly arrested. They were allegedly caught selling the meat for roughly $12 a pound, though they claim the shark was dead when they hooked it.

Online outrage ranged from "heartbreaking" to "I would like to string up whoever did this," but the demand for the friendly and docile whale shark is clearly there, with a single carcass fetching as much as $30,000 on the black market. Left to their own devices, whale sharks boast a longevity similar to humans, living as long as 70 to 100 years, reports the Shanghaiist, but hundreds are killed every year and there may only be a few thousand left in the wild. The fishermen in this case face charges of "illegal acquisition of rare or endangered animal." (Stateside, someone's been killing bald eagles in Maryland, amounting to the area's largest die-off of the bird in decades.)