A Chinese influencer is under police investigation after a video of him grilling and eating a great white shark went viral.
Footage of the vlogger, popularly known by her online moniker Tizi, showed her feasting on the predatory fish, which police in the central city of Nanchong confirmed on Sunday was white.
“It may look vicious, but its meat is actually very tender,” Tizi said as he tore off large chunks of the animal’s roasted meat, in a video posted in mid-July.
In the video, which has since been deleted, she can be seen unwrapping a two-metre-long fish and lying next to it to show that it was taller than her.
The shark is then cut in half, marinated and barbecued, while the head is cooked in a spicy broth.
Great white sharks are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — just one step away from being listed as endangered.
Shark populations — some of the ocean’s most important top predators — have been battered in recent decades, with finning and industrial longline fishing the main culprits.
In China, they are listed as protected. Illegal possession can result in a prison sentence of five to 10 years.
“It’s unbelievable that an internet celebrity can eat a protected animal in front of millions in broad daylight!” one commenter wrote in response to the story.
“These uncultivated attention-seekers will stoop very low to attract eyeballs!” said another.
It is unclear whether Tizi, who has nearly eight million followers, will be punished.
She told local media that she obtained the shark through “legal channels”, but the local agriculture office said on Monday that her claim was “inconsistent with the facts” and that police were investigating.
Dried baby shark meat is used as cat food in China and can be purchased at many online stores.
Chinese state media have long battled viral binge-eating videos, known by the Korean slang “mukbang,” while live-streaming platforms have for years vowed to shut down accounts that promote overeating and food waste.