A group of fishermen boarded a fishing boat ‘Sagar’ and left for deep-sea fishing some 50 nautical miles away from Mangaluru shore 10- days ago. When they spread the fishing net and were patiently waiting for the big catch, the net started pulling away indicating a large fish being stuck.
Initially, they wondered if it was an entire school of some fish that would fetch them big bucks. But the forceful movement of the net made them conclude that it is one single big fish.
The fishermen tried hard and pulled the fish over the boat. The fish was so heavy that the fishing staff in the boat that is used to help them draw a heavier net shattered into pieces. The fishermen felt very happy looking at the size of the creature they caught. It was around 1,200 kg and would fetch them real good money.
But this happiness didn’t last long. One of the crew members identified the creature as ‘Whale Shark’, an endangered species of the ocean. When the crew learnt that they have caught an endangered animal, they were surprised. “We were excited to find such a huge creature on the boat. But when we learnt that there are very few such animals left in the sea, we instantly decided to set it free. We knew the fish wouldn’t survive if we leave it with the entangled net,” said a crew member.
The team began to cut the net to free the whale shark. It took quite some time to clear all the net off the animal. All this while, the giant creature laid still. They called in nearby boats for some help and used a crane that they carry along to release the animal back into the Arabian Sea.
The fishermen narrated the incident after they returned to the shore on Tuesday night. The fishing net costs around Rs 1.5 lakh. To save the endangered fish, the fishermen gave away quite a big sum.
Dr Pratibha Rohit, director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, expressed joy regarding the incident. “This is an endangered species of a whale shark. The fishermen catch small creatures of this species under 200 kg rarely. But this time they have caught a huge one. I am glad that they identified the creature and released it back to the sea,” she said.
The whale shark is the largest known species of fish. With a lifespan of 80 to 130 years, they feed exclusively on plankton and small fish and don’t pose any threat to humans.