Shooting sharks at Tamu Kota Marudu

We went back to Kudat last weekend for holiday. I had the opportunity to go to Kota Marudu Tamu (Sundays open market here in Sabah) for a test of my new Nikon D40 that I bought from last month.

It’s actually my Sunday mornings ritual every time I went back to Kudat – a visit to Sikuati Tamu for fresh fish and vegetables, but this time around, my wife suggested that we go to Kota Marudu instead. My brother in law also said that Kota Marudu’s Tamu is bigger, and I could find more local people to shoot.

When I arrived there, I found a lot of people and things that were very familiar to me. But then, one trader pulled my attention to what she sells – salted and dried baby sharks.

The endangered species awareness

I was did not aware that these sharks are endangered species according to IUCN 2008 Red List, until I went for my open water scuba diving license. I even promoted sharks fin in my website before but I removed the entry when somebody pointed out the issue. I will not be helping those sharks if I continued to promote sharks fin soup (which are available here in Kota Kinabalu) in my website.

If I am correct, the sharks that are featured in this blog post is Carcharhinus borneensis, or common name is Borneo shark. Any icththyologist here? Correct me if I am wrong…

The photos

It was not that difficult to find traders who sells sharks here at the Tamu. I found at least 3 traders selling sharks, a trader sells salted sharks and the other two sells fresh caught sharks. I was shocked when the salted sharks trader offers me only RM2 (~USD0.55) for a pile of 3 of juvenile (babies) sharks.

I did not intend to buy those fish at the beginning, but I did not feel comfortable shooting those sharks while the trader looking at me with a peculiar stare. After snapping few shots, I pulled out my wallet and gave her 2 RM1 notes. She packed the left pile of sharks and handed to me. After exchanging smiles, I thanked her and left.

In case you are wondering what I did with those sharks that I bought; I buried it after finished shooting the above photos. I did not have the heart to eat it. My wife thought I was weird…

With the salted sharks in hand, I then walked to the fresh fish market, hoping to find more sharks to shoot. Fortunately, I found another 2 traders selling fresh caught sharks.

The first one that I saw sells at least 3 7-kilogram sharks. Two of the sharks were sliced nicely but the one that you see in the photo is without its fins. I am not sure how much they sell the sharks per kilogram, as I did not dare to ask…

Seeing me shooting his sharks, the guy who trade the sharks mumbled with a grin, “wah… ini masuk national geographic ke animal planet?” (Will this be in national geographic or animal planet?). I smiled at him, stopped snapping and left.

The last fish monger had only one fish. Looks juvenile, around 80 cm with fins intact. Most probably they were all the same species.

The references

I wish to see alive and swimming sharks while diving here in TARP. I noticed they spotted whale sharks at Gaya Island waters in March 2008…

11 thoughts on “Shooting sharks at Tamu Kota Marudu

  1. KaKiaYam

    brother, i am seriously out of touch of all these endangered species conservation thingy….but i would like say that I have no problem with people consuming sharks….

    okok, hear me out first lar…

    ok, first of all, these nelayan are just seeking a living, so they are not targeting sharks specifically and hence the quantities they got are just minimal… if indeed these sharks goes extinct, seriously, they are as much the culprit as everyone of us who allows our rubbish to be burnt or waste water to flow to the sea….

    second, they consume the fish entirely. this shows that they are just consuming what God has rightfully given to them (sorry to bring God into the picture….:) ). My opinion is that as long as they don’t waste the food, then by all means, go ahead.

    My problem comes with those fella who only harvest the fins. These are the people that we should really really telanjang….

    Do you know that they cut off the fins and throw back the shark (still alive) into the sea? Shark meat fetch very little in the market due to the smell, and as such, these people only harvest the fins….

    As a Chinese, I seriously oppose shark fin soup! Better use vegetarian ones, no difference at all….!

    Happy New Year!


  2. Murphy

    Now China people are getting richer and they want to have a taste of shark fin to show their status. There is one famous description that a perfect rich Chinese is the one can “wash their mouth with shark fin”. Chilling… imagine the strong demand from this 1 billion people market. The killing will get worse.

  3. frost


    I think the salted ones are from Blue Shark species.
    Its a hunch based on reading coz that they have larger pectoral fins that will accommodate their long distance swimming life.

    Cant be sure for the one on the market. No fins left to be guessed.

  4. John Abraham

    In the last 2 pictures, what’s on the right of the sting rays look like ordinary “cat fish” to me. I may be wrong.

  5. Sansita de Falconi

    these people probably didn’t even know that the shark is endangered species and I agree with KaKiaYam, I am more disturbed with shark’s fin harvester and marine trash šŸ™

  6. John Abraham

    Doc, I must say your photos are exceptional. I did Zoology for my degree, but sea species was not a major subject. I must therefore agree with your conclusion of it’s scientific name.

    Take care. Will again thank you for getting me my Mt. Kinabalu climb certificate.

  7. tanakwagu sabah

    berapakah rkyat sabah y tahu apa itu perkara 20 sabah sperti dlm perjanjian msia 1963????…ia merupakan harta sabah y paling berharga…perjuangkan ia utk melindungi hak2 dan kedaulatan sabah…utk maklumt lanjut,cari lah sendiri apa itu perkara 20 sabah kerana ia amat pnting genarasi muda sabah mgetahuinya./….

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