A fishing town in southern Germany had a message for visitors: Please do not feed the whale sharks, because the fish — an endangered species — would lose their stingers.
Since the city of Hamburg celebrated the international 15th International Whale Shark Festival last weekend, the custom of munching on finfish has exploded here.
In response, tourists have been calling the city — which bills itself as Germany’s most “urbanized” town — dumb.
“Why have you given up the question of why sharks go into cities to die?” Marese Piekarski, a journalist and author of a book on the history of Hamburg, wrote on Twitter.
But besides whale sharks — an extremely protected species — scientists say sharks are abundant in open waters of the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.
And the opportunity to feast on shark at festivals is scarce.
Officials in Hamburg have since clarified that shark fins are preserved in the harbor, as a delicacy, not eaten. They told swimmers to refrain from eating a shark’s feet, which are used for all kinds of things.
My next task: Never have a shark foot again. Also never pass go.
Updated on Oct. 7 at 11:26 a.m.