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Rare catch of massive great white shark off Tunisia draws criticism

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Two-ton great white shark hoisted by crane in Sousse. Photo: Kapitalis

A great white shark weighing 4,400 pounds was caught Wednesday morning off Sousse, Tunisia, and sold by the fisherman for 3,000 dinars, or about $1,500.

That's a substantial sum for a shark or any type of fish brought to market in Tunisia, but catches like this are rare in the Mediterranean.

The catch, however, is being criticized because white sharks are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and protected in most parts of the world.

"Let us remember that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) had raised the alarm in 2013 on the massive activities of fishing for shark, if we consider that 90% of the population of these animals is missing in the over a century," reads a translated portion of a story about the catch in the publication Kapitalis.

Kapitalis explained that the store that bought the shark "had to use a crane to hold it in suspension [as it was] cut to pieces under the curious gaze of customers. Passersby, fishermen and fishmongers could not resist to make selfies with the shark's size rather surprising."

Criticism is bound to increase as the story gets shared via social media.

Reads a Facebook statement from the Marine Conservation Science Institute: “Although White Shark populations are rebounding around the globe, the Mediterranean Sea population is so depleted that white sharks are very rarely seen.

“Every few years a pup is caught, demonstrating that a reproductive population still exists, but losing a mature female like this one is tragic. These exceptionally rare, big females are the only hope of a recovery in the future.

The story was also posted to the “Sharks…all about sharks!” Facebook page. All comments were negative, and this seemed to sum up the sentiment: "Sad ending for such a majestic animal. So hope the freaks that eat it get mercury poisoning & that the fishermen get served Karma very soon."

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