According to the Shanghaiist, Captain Cai Chengzhu told News 163 he had caught the fish by mistake after it became entangled in his net. After struggling to free itself, the shark died. The fisherman then transported it on shore by tractor and was planning to sell it for as much as $3,300 before the Fujian fisheries department stopped the sale. It is illegal to catch or sell whale sharks.
Known as the world’s largest fish, the whale shark can grow up to 45 feet long and live more than 100 years. It’s highly prized on the black market. In January, the environmental group WildLifeRisk exposed what it described as “the biggest ever whale shark slaughterhouse uncovered in southeastern China,” which slaughtered 600 whale sharks annually to produce “shark oil for health supplements.”
Chengzhu told local media that at the time he tried to sell the fish he didn’t know what it was.