This is not what those advertising gurus meant by the “other white meat.”
Amid a recent rash of shark sightings and attacks, one inflammatory foodie is biting back: A popular Chinese social media personality is currently under investigation after chowing down on a great white shark, as seen in alarming footage now going viral online.
“It may look vicious, but its meat is truly very tender,” exclaims fin-fluencer, known as Tizi, while ripping off chunks of Jaws’ flesh in the controversial clip, the Times of London reported. She posted the clip in mid-July on the Chinese video sharing platform Douyin, where she’s garnered nearly 8 million followers by eating various edible exotica.
In her latest feat of risqué gastronomy, Tizi decided to turn the tables on the ocean’s greatest predator by chowing down on a six foot shark that she claimed to have bought at a market in Nanchong, Sichuan.
The shocking video, which was deleted following backlash but resurfaced on YouTube, shows the epicurean unwrapping and lying next to the over 6-foot-long shark, which dwarfs the fun-sized gourmand by a head. The massive beast is then sliced in half, basted and barbecued, before its massive noggin is stewed in a fiery hotpot.
A subsequent investigation by the Nanchong police found that the species was a great white shark, which is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — one rung under endangered. Meanwhile, the enormous beasts are classified as protected in China with illegal possession of the critter carrying a five to 10 year prison sentence, the Guardian reported.
However, in the video, Tizi insisted that the shark was “edible” and “bred in captivity” — a suspect explanation given that great whites generally only mate in the wild and take several decades to attain sexual maturity, according to marine life experts.
The aforementioned police probe revealed that the slippery gourmet had also bought the shark online at a seafood market in Fujian while the Nanchong shop simply served as the backdrop for the frowned-upon feast. Many local newshounds suspected that the shark had been purchased without a permit.
“It cannot be excluded that there is a black market,” according to the Paper, one of China’s government-run outlets, per the Times. “After all, to ship a big shark from the coastal region to Nanchong [an inland city more than 1,100 miles away], it requires co-ordination.”
The local news outlet continued: “We must harshly crack down on the illegal hunting and trade of endangered wildlife and eliminate the criminal chain.”
Chinese netizens didn’t appear too pleased with Tizi going to town on her great bite.
“It is flabbergasting that an internet celebrity can eat a protected animal in front of millions in broad daylight!” wrote one appalled commenter.
Another wrote, “These uncultured attention-mongers will stoop very low to attract eyeballs!”
It remeains unclear if Tizi will be penalized for eating a vulnerable species.
However, the practice of shark consumption has largely been on the decline in China. A 2014 report found that the consumption of shark’s fin — a traditional banquet dish — plummeted by more than 80% in the nation’s shark’s fin hub while 85% of surveyed Chinese customers claim they gave up the delicacy in the past ten years, according to Oceana. This followed efforts by the Middle Kingdom to crack down on the dish, culminating in the government banning shark’s fin from official banquets in 2013, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, last summer the US Senate passed the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, “a bill that would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States,” Oceana reported.
“This is a great day for sharks and our oceans,” said Whitney Webber, campaign director at Oceana, at the time. “We’re now one step closer to officially removing the United States from the shark fin trade.”
Coincidentally, shark activity has been on the rise across the eastern seaboard of the US as of late. On Saturday, Florida beach-goers evacuated the water after large sharks were sighted patrolling the shallows near where kids were playing. Last week, alarming drone footage showed sharks — including great whites — circling in the water 100 feet away from the beaches of Long Island.
This followed an uptick in sightings, which prompted authorities to shutter beaches across the region.