A Fujian Province man has been detained for butchery of a nationally protected shark on the street.
The publicity department of Xiapu county announced on Wednesday that the suspect, surnamed Liu, has been detained on suspicion of illegally selling an endangered animal and related products.
The announcement came after a post that has been viral online since Monday, which showed a van carrying the whale shark to a hotel and the subsequent dismemberment of the marine mammal by a gang of workers wielding saws as passersby look on.
A local resident told the Legal Daily newspaper that while eating whale sharks is a local custom in Xiapu, the practice has been in decline in recent years due to the efforts of the county government.
The newspaper report said that the whale shark was caught by local fisherman and was sold to a hotel for somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 yuan ($3,071-$4,617).
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 the waters off Fujian, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and South China's Guangdong Province from May to June.
China's Criminal Law states that people who hunt and kill rare and endangered wild animals can face a jail term as high as 10 years and a fine. In May 2016, a man surnamed Liao from Beihai, Guangxi was detained after buying a 370-kilogram whale shark for two yuan per kilogram and selling it for five yuan per kilogram.