An 18′ (5.5m) whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was found by divers off the shores of Tingloy, Batangas with its dorsal and pectoral fins sliced off, according to a news release from the World Wildlife Fund – Philippines. The whale shark, known locally as “butanding,” was still alive when the divers found it on Monday. The shark was towed to calmer waters in Caban Cove, where efforts were made to flank and support the shark, but it inevitably died the next day as a result of its injuries. Obvious knife wounds were observed around the shark’s caudal fin, as well.
According to the news release, possession or slaughter of whale sharks in the Philippines is prohibited by Republic Act No. 8550 of the Fisheries Administrative Order. Violation of this act is punishable by a maximum fine of P10,000, four years in prison, and revocation of the violator’s fishing license. A GMANews.TV article on the story notes that whale shark meat, known as “tofu meat,” sells for P360 ($8) per kg, while shark fins sell for approximately one hundred times as much at P36,000 ($800) per kg.
The WWF has officially condemned the act and is calling for “enhanced enforcement” and for the responsible parties to be prosecuted.