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Home » News » Fisherman rescues whale shark pup

Fisherman rescues whale shark pup

AHMEDABAD: Mohan Solanki was out fishing 20 nautical miles away from Sutrapada coast. Suddenly his boat swung alarmingly as his net strained with something heavy under water.

Solanki managed to bring his net up a little and was taken aback to see a whale shark pup squirming for freedom. Without any delay, he decided to cut net and free the pup. This is the first of its kind of rescue where a pup, about 60 cm in length, was entangled in fishing net.

“This is the first reported incident where an alone pup had got entangled in the nets. Earlier there have been sightings of the whale sharks with the young ones which was an indication that the sharks use to come here in the Indian water to breed,” said Bharat Pathak, the director of Gujarat Ecological and Education Research Foundation (Geer). The foundation has taken up studies on dugong and whale sharks.

Solanki reported the entire incident with photographs to the Whale Shark Conservation Project team, a joint venture of the Gujarat forest department, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and corporate from Saurshtra. The team has been carrying out research on the mighty fish along Gujarat coast since 2008.

“We have been trying to understand ecology, behaviour and migration of the whale sharks, after the successful whale shark campaign that convinced fishermen to release whale sharks caught in their nets,” said B C Choudhury, senior advisor, WTI.

“Now these fishermen are actually helping the project in a number of ways. The fishermen reporting such rescues, gives some valuable insights through circumstantial evidence. A

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pup being found could mean that the whale shark reproduces or gives birth here,” he said, adding that further research would provide scientific evidence.

According to WTI, Dr Rachel

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Graham, renowned whale shark expert and a member of the scientific advisory committee of the project, said, “The sighting or capture of a sub-meter whale sharks is very rare. This particular pup looks like it was most likely born this year and this capture off the coast of Gujarat, further suggests that whale sharks are pupping in the area.”

The pup was around 60 cm long, which means it was only a month or two old. Whale sharks vary greatly in size when they are born, from the 33 cm around the Philippines to about 55 cm found in the Taiwanese water.

WTI officials said that their field officers Prem Jyoti, Farukhkha and Prakash Doriya, who interacted with the Sutrapada fishermen following the rescue, said that the fishermen had not seen a whale shark pup for over four decades.

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