Porpoise tears are more powerful than you might think.
Onlookers at an outdoor meat market in China were stunned to see a finless porpoise crying as it was being prepared for sale.
Finless porpoises are a critically endangered species, the World Wildlife Fund maintains, and it is illegal to buy or sell them in China. All porpoises are subjected to trade controls by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and hunting, killing and trading of finless porpoises are prohibited by the Wild Animal Conservation Law.
There are fewer finless porpoises in the world than giant pandas, with only about 200 remaining in the Pearl River Region where this one was found.
They are still sold on the black market in East Asia, however, as this one was seen at a market in Xuwen, a seaside county in China’s Guangdong Province.
The Express reports that eyewitnesses Cheng Mingyue and Cheng Jianzhuang reported the Finless porpoise to authorities, noting its length at 5 feet, 7 inches, weighing more than 110 pounds.
Onlookers’ stories matched the video released by Chinese media People’s Daily, which shows the rare porpoise “crying” tears as it’s about to be sold.
Finless porpoises have no dorsal fins, but dorsal ‘grooves’ that help them navigate currents. They are sometimes called “river pigs” for their distinct appearance.
For the meat market vendors, the animal may have fetched a decent price. For Mingyue and Jianzhuang, it was just too much to bear. The men paid a little over $222 for the animal, which they then carried back to sea.
“The fish vendor lent us a puller he used to transport goods,” Mingyue told Beijing Youth Daily. “At around 4pm, we pulled the ‘dolphin’ to the beach and set it free.”
Watch the emotional rescue in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.