Day after a 25-foot female whale shark found dead at Sassoon Dock, officials from the state-run Mangrove Foundation on Thursday said that some of its fins were missing.
On Wednesday morning, fishermen at the Sassoon Dock in Colaba informed the police about the dead whale shark, which had been cut into pieces for sale even before the state fisheries department officials reached the dock.
Police have detained two people in connection, including a tempo driver and a buyer allegedly involved in the trading of the endangered species. The Mangrove Foundation has got the custody of the duo till August 18.
Officials said search was on to find those who caught and left the whale shark at the dock. “Investigation is underway to identify the person responsible for killing the shark,” said Suresh Varak, range forest officer (Mangrove Foundation).
The The dismembered carcass of the shark was transported to Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre in Airoli on Wednesday evening. A postmortem was conducted and the carcass was later buried on Thursday.
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest of the shark family and are a protected species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, which makes their capture and killing a cognizable offence. The species, often found along the western coast, is also listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Despite the ban, adult whale sharks are often caught and killed for their liver oil and fins.
Officials said the local fishermen consider whale shark as sacred and have known to release it back in the waters when caught by accident.
“This is first such instance where we found whale shark cut into pieces for trade,” said Varak. In local parlance, the whale shark is known as “Devmasa”
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