Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and are ‘endangered’ species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (HT PHOTO).
Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and are ‘endangered’ species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (HT PHOTO).

Huge whale shark washes up on Odisha coast; locals push it back into the sea

  • Officials said some local youths spotted the big fish lying lifeless on the Sonapur coast on Thursday afternoon.
By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 11:42 PM IST

A 15-feet long whale shark, the largest among the shark species, on Thursday washed up on a beach on the Sonapur coast of Ganjam district much to the amazement of local fishermen and tourists.

Officials said some local youths spotted the big fish lying lifeless on the Sonapur coast on Thursday afternoon. “When they went near it, they found it was alive. The young men then informed the forest personnel who managed to push the shark back to the sea,” said Berhampur divisional forest officer Amlan Nayak. In March last year, the carcass of a 18 ft long whale shark had washed up on Sonapur beach.

Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and are ‘endangered’ species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is also a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed specimen is 18.8 metres.

Nayak said though the shark was pushed back into the sea, the department will keep a watch on it as it may again come back to the coast.

“They are known to thrive in deep sea. But of late carcasses of whale sharks are either washing ashore or they are coming to the coast as it happened in Sonapur. Five months ago, a similar whale shark had swum to the Gopalpur coast. It could be due to some change in marine ecology or in search of food like phytoplankton, fish or jellyfish. The sharks may be coming to the coast as Olive Ridley turtles nest on the coast during this season and all the food that the turtles eat are available for them,” said Nayak.

In December last year, the carcass of a 12 ft long whale shark was washed ashore near the Baradia river mouth in Balasore district after being hit by some ship or deep sea fishing vessel.;

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