300 Dead Sharks Found in Mexico on Roadside 150 Miles from the Sea

Authorities have found 300 dead sharks 150 miles from the sea in Mexico, reports Associated Press. The sharks were dumped on the side of the road in Yurécuaro, a town in the country's Michoacán state. The remains had been gutted and their fins removed, according to the report.

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A thresher shark being weighed in a tournament in July 2017. Authorities in Mexico found 300 of the animals dumped by the side of the road. Maddie Meyer Getty Images

According to the AP, the office for environmental protection stated they believed the thresher sharks had been fished in the Sonora and Sinaloa states in the country's northern region. The fishing was done legally and the carcasses were being trucked to Mexico City, but thieves stole the vehicle and tossed the frozen bodies by the side of the road. The news organization points out that this area is known for drug cartel crime.

Thresher sharks are distinguished by the very long, pointy upper lobe of their tail. In fact, their tail fin can be as long as their entire bodies. Though used by the sharks to stun prey, this unique characteristic also makes them susceptible to fisheries because their fins are lucrative for the shark trade, explained the Florida Museum of Natural History,

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, about 100 million sharks die from commercial fishing each year, with thresher sharks making up a large portion of the supply. Demand for shark products is high, and large shark fins can garner a higher price. The organization writes that thresher sharks, along with silky sharks and mobula rays, have seen population declines in recent years.

Thresher sharks are also appealing to fisheries for their skin, which is used to make leather, and for their liver oil, which is used in vitamins.

300 dead sharks found on roadside may be work of Mexican cartels https://t.co/X4cROZLP9E pic.twitter.com/6LZb3ClaTP

— New York Post (@nypost) January 25, 2018

Despite their value dead, Pew argues that these animals are worth much more alive. Diving site Monad Shoal, located off Malapascua Island in the Philippines, is one of the only places in the world where thresher sharks are seen daily, reported the BBC in 2012. This has driven tourism to the area and Pew explains that travel dollars helped the island recover after the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan.

In 2012, a study revealed that shark diving brought $18 million each year to the economy of Palau, an island nation is located in the Pacific Ocean. The study authors concluded, "Shark diving provides an attractive economic alternative to shark fishing, with distribution of revenues benefiting several sectors of the economy, stimulating the development and generating high revenues to the government, while ensuring the ecological sustainability of shark populations."

In response, the government deemed the area's waters a "shark sanctuary," banning commercial fishing.

However, in Mexico, as the AP reported, thresher sharks are not currently a protected species.