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Whale Shark Hauled Alive Into Chinese Market And Chopped Into Pieces

14/08/2015 15:57 BST | Updated 14/08/2015 18:59 BST

A live whale shark has been filmed being chopped into pieces in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

The graphic, gruesome footage has been watched over a million times on YouTube.

At the beginning of the video, the creature can be seen apparently still alive, groaning, undoubtedly in pain.

whale shark

The whale was sliced open whilst it was still alive

As onlookers appear to marvel at the great creature being sawn apart, questions are being raised about animal rights in China.

Peter Li, an associate professor of political science at the University of Houston and a China policy consultant for the Human Society International, told Vice News:

"[China] is divided between the people who are indifferent and people who care about animal rights.

"The part of the Chinese public that is caring, that is compassionate, has grown exponentially in the last twenty years or so."

Ali Hood, director of conservation at The Shark Trust said: “The footage of a whale shark being butchered whilst apparently still alive has appalled Shark Trust supporters,

“To see such a magnificent, placid animal treated with such little dignity demonstrates to the Shark Trust how vital it is to continue to raise awareness as to the importance of sharks and their relatives to a healthy, balanced marine environment.”

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Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea and can reach lengths of 40 feet (12 meters). Despite their enormity, they feed on a diet of plankton.

The species are docile sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride. According to National Geographic, they are currently listed as a vulnerable species; however, they continue to be hunted in parts of Asia, such as the Philippines.