Fishery authorities in South China's Guangdong Province have started investigating a diver who showed off online the whale shark he caught.
The diver, who goes by the name "Zhanjiang Yaopeng" on WeChat, a social networking app, posted a video of three people catching a whale shark, and asked "how much its fin is worth."
The Zhanjiang Ocean and Fisheries Bureau told the Global Times that they started investigating the case on Thursday. "Once confirmed, we will file a case against the diver and turn the case over to the police."
The whale shark is considered a "vulnerable" animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is a Class-B protected species in China. They are found in waters off Guangxi and Guangdong from May to June.
Other divers on the WeChat group persuaded him to free the animal. "As a diver, we should protect endangered animals," one group member warned. "Who's there to feed me?" "Zhanjiang Yaopeng" replied.
China's Criminal Law states that people who hunt and kill rare and endangered wild animals could face a jail term of at least 10 years and a fine. In May 2016, a man surnamed Liao from Beihai, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region bought a 370-kilogram whale shark for two yuan ($0.3) per kilogram and sold at a price of five yuan per kilogram.