The slaughter of Galapagos, silky, and hammerhead sharks occurred in a giant wildlife sanctuary around the island of Malpelo off the country’s coast, the Guardian reports. The divers, who were researching the shark population, spotted 10 fishing trawlers “entering the zone illegally,” said a Colombian environmental official. All reportedly flew Costa Rican flags.
“When the divers dove, they started finding a large number of animals without their fins. They didn’t see any alive,” the official said. “Our estimates are that as many as 2,000 sharks may have been killed.” The Colombian navy occasionally patrols the area; following the reported killing, navy boats captured an Ecuadorian fishing boat carrying more than 600 pounds of illegal animals, sharks among them. Costa Rica “energetically condemns” the slaughter, its foreign ministry said, adding that it would seek prosecution if its own ships were to blame.