A 40-foot whale shark was brought into harbor in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb. 7. after reportedly being found unconscious in the Arabian Sea about 10 days ago, the Express Tribune reports.
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Fishermen used several cranes to lift the whale shark to dry land, where a crowd of onlookers gathered to see the massive creature.
The whale shark carcass was later sold for 1.7 million rupees (nearly $19,000), ABC News reports.
After a 2005 assessment, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources declared the global whale shark population was vulnerable, MSNBC observes.
For many years, whale sharks have been highly sought after by harpoon fisheries in Southeast Asia, where people primarily used the fish for meat and oil. However, it is now illegal to hunt whale sharks in several countries, including India and the Philippines.
Habitat damage has proven to be another threat to the whale shark population, according to the Whale Shark Project, a conservation awareness group. Pollution and overfishing near reefs often leads to a reduced available food supply for the creatures.
In an effort to help protect the animals, some businesses have turned to ecotourism to educate people about the sharks and their environment.
However, some tourists said expeditions often felt more "commercial" than educational, according to a VERA Files report.
Whale sharks are the world's largest fish, often growing to 40 feet or greater in length, National Geographic explains. Typically found swimming in warm, tropical waters, whale sharks are generally docile creatures.
Nevertheless, longtime fisherman Allan Amanse warns that getting too close to whale sharks might not be a good idea.
"Whale sharks are really amazing animals. They are very gentle. But people should remember that they are wildlife animals and feeding them could pose more harm than good," Amanse is quoted as saying in a VERA Files article.
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