Several local fishermen rescued a shark trapped in a shore fishing net in Tantadi beach in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, said District Forest Officer (DFO) Anant Shankar. According to the DFO, the shark was later led back to the sea by forest department officials, fishermen and animal conservationists.
‘The instructions from the DFO were simple- guide the whale shark to safety, sparing no efforts or expenses. What ensued were herculean efforts, both physical and mental, with tremendous coordination and collaboration by the forest department, fishermen, and wildlife conservationists, to guide this 2-tonne fish back into the ocean alive. And it was a success. The whale shark successfully swam back into the depths of the ocean’, he further stated.
‘The shark’s pictures are now being shared with the Maldives Whale shark research programme for identification. This would help us to understand the movements and territories of these gentle giants, better’, he said.
Earlier in March this year, an Odisha fisherman rescued a whale shark twice. Marine megafaunas like turtles, whales, and sharks rely heavily on the Odisha coast. The dotted whale shark is the world’s largest fish and is known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ in fishing circles.
Whale sharks are included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and are protected by the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972. The whale shark is a ‘filter feeder’ meaning it doesn’t eat flesh like other sharks. Whale sharks eat small planktons and filter waters.
This animal is at risk of becoming entangled in fishing nets by accident. Whale sharks are not valuable commercially. Fishermen, on the other hand, unlawfully take their fins and liver.