A shark so rare that humans have encountered it only forty-one times in the preceding three decades has met an ignominious end simmering in coconut milk.
Fishermen based in the city of Donsol in the Philippines caught the four-metre long megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) while trawling for mackerel.
The shark, estimated at 500 kg, died soon after being captured at a depth of 200 metres off the eastern coast of Burias Isle and was landed at Barangay Dancalan in Donsol.
Worldwide Fund for Nature Project Manager Elson Aca arrived to examine the fish and identified it as a megamouth shark, the 42nd (although most news reports state that it is the 41st) encountered since the discovery of this species in 1976.
Despite entreaties by Aca not to do so, the fishermen butchered and ate the shark, cooking it with coconut milk, malunggay leaves and chili in a dish known as kinunot.
Scientists who examined the shark before it was butchered found scars on its face from previous encounters with gill nets. Shrimp larvae were also found in its guts.
According to Aca: The presence of two of the world's three filter feeding sharks warrants special attention for the Donsol-Masbate region.
Whale and megamouth sharks, manta rays, dolphins and other charismatic giants indicate that the region's ecosystem is still relatively healthy.
By protecting megafauna, we help maintain the dynamic balance of our seas, and ensure the entire ecosystem s resilience and natural productivity.