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Watch: The Environment Agency rescues six metre whale shark

The shark has now been returned safely to the Arabian Gulf…

A collaborative A-Team-esque effort from The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and The National Aquarium (TNA) has managed to rescue a six-metre long whale shark from the waters of a man-made lagoon in Al Bahiyah.

Whale sharks are filter feeders, meaning they munch on plankton, krill and fish eggs, posing absolutely zero threat to humans. They can live up to 130 years and are the largest non-cetacean (non-whale) animal in the world.

This particular individual was spotted in the lagoon, and after carfeul observation, the EAD was able to establish that the shark was trapped and unable to feed.

Bay-Watch

With time for a rescue running out, a daring rescue mission was conceived and launched with the help of the TNA. Together with jet-ski surface support from Abu Dhabi Marine Club, a team of divers from the aquarium used a special soft plastic through-water transport bag to carefully capture the animal.

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The bag and its fragile cargo was then transported 20km out into the open waters of the Arabian Gulf, whilst the rescue team monitored the shark’s vital signs by staging divers along the shark’s path.

This was a ‘first of its kind’ capture and release effort, and thanks to the quick-thinking and expert knowledge of the rescue team, alongside some highly innovative tech, the mission was a complete success.

Whale-wishing

Whale sharks are not strangers to our shores, back in September of this year a pair were spotted in Abu Dhabi’s Al Raha Canal.

Sadly though, these animals are endangered. Despite several international bans on the targeting of whale sharks for capture, the market for their fins, skin and oil means that many still end up in the nets of unscrupulous fisheries.

If you spot a whale shark, make sure you reporte it directly to the EAD on 800 555, and admire them from afar, up-close inspection can cause the creatures significant stress. Same whale sharks, same.

Images: Unsplash/Pixabay

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