Local fishermen hauled a huge whale shark through the streets of Xiapu county in Fujian on Monday and offered to sell it to a local restaurant, Shanghaiist reported.
The fish appears to be alive in a video that can be viewed below, with its fin shaking as the truck makes its way down a busy street.
When the fishermen arrived at the restaurant and made their offer, the manager refused to buy the shark, but not because it is a nationally protected species in China.
The giant fish apparently was “too smelly” and too full of mercury to eat.
The next day, videos and photos surfaced of the enterprising fishermen lifting the shark into to a courtyard and cutting it up in the middle of the city because they thought it would be easier to sell in pieces.
The bizarre photos and videos went viral on Chinese social networks and the flurry of outrage eventually reached local officials. They have launched an investigation and one of the men involved has already been arrested, according to Shanghaiist.
China prohibits the capture of whale sharks and fishermen must release them if they are caught. Philippines, India, and Taiwan have also banned the fishing, selling, and import of whale sharks.
Despite the illegality, whale sharks continue to become victims after Chinese fishermen “accidentally” pull them in.
In 2016, government officials from Beihai City shared photos on the official city account of a whale shark swimming in the waters near an offshore oil field.
The city shared some more photos two days later, and they quickly went viral, but not because they were beautiful. The photos show the whale, the largest known living species of fish, strung up on a crane and slaughtered.
People who saw the photos online were outraged.
“I would like to string up whoever did this,” wrote one person.
A similar incident occurred in 2015 when a whale shark was slaughtered alive and butchered in a public square in Guangdong, Shanghaiist reported.
In 2014, a fisherman in Zhejiang province reeled in a 5-ton whale shark “by accident”.