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Rare Whale Shark: Fishermen's Find in U.A.E.

Dec 21, 2015 03:16 PM EST
A whale shark at The Whale Shark Collection, Daedalus Reef, Red Sea
Whale sharks are gentle giants, the world's largest fish. They are considered vulnerable worldwide, and a baby one recently was caught in a net by fishermen off the east coast of the U.A.E.
(Photo : Flickr: Derek Keats)

A baby version of the world's largest fish, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was recently caught in nets on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates in the emirate called Fujairah. Surrounded by interested onlookers, fishermen began cutting nets to free the three-meter shark, according to an article in The National (UAE).

In the area known for arid mountains that dip to white sand beaches, whale sharks aren't all that common. Worldwide, they are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. Partly, they are threatened because they are shy, long-lived (and with a slow reproduction rate), and because they are hunted for shark-fin soup. 

"A lot of people noticed it. We ran down and, when I got there, they dragged the net to the shore and the whale shark was still in it," Rhys Jacobson, an Australian scuba diver, said in the article.

The small shark was heavy but harmless, the article observed. This type of shark is very gentle.

"It's a very rare thing to see," Jacobson said in the article. "A lot of guests from the resort nearby were very curious about it, so there were about 50 people watching and they all cheered once we pulled it back to sea."

"We were running towards the area where they captured the whale shark and we were so excited to see it," Dominique Gallrte, a Filipino cleaner at the nearby scuba center, said in The National's article. "I am very grateful that there were a lot of people there because I thought the fishermen would keep it if they were alone. But it's still a baby, so I'm grateful it was freed. It's the second time I saw one. My first sighting was when I dived in Dibba Rock."

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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