Too cruel! Whale shark butchered alive at Chinese market
A graphic video showing a whale shark being butchered alive at an unknown market in China has surfaced online.
The roughly two minute-long clip shows the majestic creature squirming and gasping for air as two men saw it to pieces with a two-man saw starting from its tail.
At one point, a stream of water and blood gushes out from the animal as it is sliced apart.
The gruesome incident took place in front of a crowd of around 20 people with at least one person heard on camera describing the unfolding horror as "too cruel".
While it is not known where the video was shot, the person who uploaded it on Chinese microblogging site Weibo claimed in an interview with ThePaper.cn that it took place in a southern region of Guangdong.
You can watch the video here, although be prepared for graphic images after the jump.
Largest fish in the world
The whale shark is the world's largest fish and can grow more than 12m in length.
A filter feeder that feeds on plankton, the gentle giant is one rung away from being classified as an endangered species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.
While they have long lives, whale sharks are believed to reach sexual maturity after 30 years, making their numbers susceptible to human activities like hunting.
Mr Ali Hood, director of conservation for The Shark Trust in the UK, was quoted in the Mail Online saying: "The footage of a whale shark being butchered whilst apparently still alive has appalled Shark Trust supporters.
"To see such a magnificent, placid animal treated with such little dignity demonstrates to the Shark Trust how vital it is to continue to raise awareness as to the importance of sharks and their relatives to a healthy, balanced marine environment.
'Although listed under Appendix II of CITES and under the Convention for Migratory Species – the enforcement of domestic regulations can often lag behind."