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(Flickr: KAZ2.0)

Whale shark freeing caught on camera

24th July 2012

A whale shark in Indonesia's Cenderawasih Bay became entangled in fishing nets, but was located and freed

Conservation International received a distress call from local fisherman about the whale shark when it became ensnared, and were able to disentangle it and shoot footage below.

The organisation fitted 30 of the the whales with tiny radio transmitters last year in order to identify, track and film them, and gather data about the population and how many are feeding in the area.

Senior Adviser to Conservation International-Indonesia Dr Mark Erdmann, who filmed the rescue, commented that they tagged the sharks “to better understand the wanderings of these mysterious creatures.”

Some of the sharks have learned how to suck fish out of the holes in the nets, but occasionally they do become trapped in the nets themselves. Thankfully, the Bay is Indonesia's largest marine national park, so is managed and has a ranger team. Local fishermen see the sharks as good luck, and are generally peaceful towards them.

“They [the sharks] are certainly very docile. They frequently literally eat baitfish out of the hands of the fisherman. The fishers also believe that if the whale sharks are around, they will have a better catch,” Dr Erdmann added.

Local fisherman are considering changing the net design to prevent the sharks from becoming entangled.

“The fishers were happy to discuss with the park authority ideas for ways to keep the sharks from entering the nets in the first place, which we believe can be done by modifying the net design slightly,” he continued.

“We are optimistic that the issue of entanglement can be dealt with quite straightforwardly.”

Footage courtesy of Conservation International

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