However, it is still unclear whether the whale shark, which are listed as endangered, actually classed as 'vulnerable to extinction' and protected in Thai waters with a ban on fishing all whale sharks, was dead or alive when it was put back into the sea.
Speaking to The Phuket News yesterday (May 20), DMCR director-general Jatuporn Buruspat said, “We are very concerned about Thailand’s marine life after finding out about the whale shark caught off Phuket on May 18. This is disgusting behaviour.
“We will keep looking for this whale shark as we have yet to find any trace of it. If we can’t find the whale shark floating in the sea in next five days we will presume it is still alive.
“If we do find it dead then we will next have to recover the body to find the cause of death,” Mr Jatuporn explained.
Following the video being released on social media on Friday, the Royal Thai Navy at 9:30am on Saturday (May 19) went to Seang Arun Pier in Rassada Pier to search for the boat seen on the video with the whale shark strung up.
A The Phuket News reporter joined the search with navy officials and was told that a crew member of the “Aqua” dive boat saw the incident and shouted out to the crew of the fishing boat until they eventually released it back into the sea.
It was believed that the whale shark was dead, The Phuket News reporter was told.
Chief of Staff of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command Adm Pichet Tanaset led the inspection at Seang Arun Pier and confirmed that it was the “Sang Samut 3” fishing vessel that was seen in the video with the whale shark.
Both the Sang Samut 3 and Sang Samut 2 were apprehended at the pier and the captain of the Sang Samut 3 was immediately taken to Chalong Police Station for questioning.
“Somsamai Meejom is the captain of the boat. He has been taken for questioning at Chalong Police Station,” Adm Pichet confirmed.
“The Department of Fisheries and DMCR Phuket office are currently looking into the incident and they will decide whether they believe Mr Somsamai’s is guilty of committing any crime.
“If they believe that he has then he will be charged accordingly. I expect the penalty against him to be very serious,” Adm Pichet said.
Mr Jatuporn added, “I don’t want any incident like this to happen again. If anyone has any information regarding damage to marine life, please inform the DMCR.
“I have also asked the tourist police at Royal Thai Police in Bangkok to support us as they can help to inform tourists about laws regarding protected marine life.”