A very rare carpenter shark, also known as sawfish, was found dead after getting tangled in fishing nets on the coast of Karnataka, India.
A video posted to the Nakhuda Boys Manki’s Facebook page shows the large sawfish being lifted by a crane and has been shared by many on social media.
The official Twitter account of Mangalore City uploaded photos of the “extremely rare” sawfish, along with a brief explanation of how the shark died. They also clarified in another post that the sawfish was already dead when it was illegally “purchased” by a trader from Mangaluru.
Carpenter sharks are a protected species in India under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and the buying or selling of sawfish is considered illegal under Indian law and can elicit punishments equal to the killing of a tiger or elephant. These punishments typically come in fines or imprisonment.
“The huge carpenter shark weighed around 250 kgs, was accidentally trapped in the nets of a boat named ‘Sea Captain’ that had left Malpe port to fish in deep water,” Mangalore City wrote.
Sawfishes play an important role in the marine ecosystem by foraging and exposing tiny organisms, allowing other marine species to easily access their prey for food. A majority of these sharks live in shallow coastal waters off Florida.
Many users responded to the post by expressing their outrage and sorrow over the sawfish’s demise. One user commented that the sawfish “should have been saved and left into waters” while another user suggested that the fishermen and traders be punished.