Whale Shark Swallows Boat Whole...
Though this image was not doctored in any way, everyone on the boat is safe and sound. This photo was taken on a recent trip to Mexico, where WildAid's Executive Director, Peter Knights, and a handful of supporters including Sir Richard Branson, swam with hundreds of whale sharks.
Although the whale shark is the biggest fish in the sea (measuring up to 40 ft long), their diet consists mostly of tiny plankton and pose no real threat to humans, who travel from around the world to swim with these gentle giants.
The real threat is to the whale sharks, which are being killed for their fins at an alarming rate. Fins from an estimated 73 million sharks per year are used to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy that can fetch up to $100 USD per bowl. Since shark fins are considered much more valuable than shark meat, sharks are usually hauled on deck, their fins are sliced off, and the maimed sharks are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death. Currently, an estimated 1/3 of pelagic shark species are threatened with extinction. A recent study by Science examines the negative consequences of removing apex predators, such as sharks, from their ecosystems.
WildAid's mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection. We produce public service announcements featuring some of the biggest international stars such as Yao Ming, Harrison Ford, and Jackie Chan. With help from our media partners and pro bono placements, our message reaches a combined audience of one billion people per week.