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A Whale of a Tale – Whale Shark Caught in Nets!

St Lucia’s
fishermen had a whale of a tale to tell last month—a 29.7ft, one to be
precise.

After
becoming entangled in a tuna net the huge whale shark—the ocean’s
biggest fish—ended up stranded south of Canaries on Anse
Mahaut beach.

The
whale’s story began at 9:00 AM on Thursday, November 24th, 2005, the
Soufriere Marine Management Area’s (SMMA) Kai Wolfe was told by a water
taxi operator that a large creature, possibly a whale, stranded at Anse Mahaut.

Off went
the team from SMMA, helped by onlookers of course, the harmless plankton eating
giant already categorizes as vulnerable by the Conservation of Nature, had
apparently been caught in net set to catch a large school of tuna, which often
accompany whale sharks, as they act as a natural Fish Aggregating Device.

The
rescue turned out to be an all department affair the Department of Fisheries
and Marine Police assisting dive shops, who must have relished the task to move
the stranded leviathan back to deeper waters.

First of
the dive boats was Anse Chastanet/Scuba
St. Lucia, but despite 450 hp engine power, the dive boat was not able to budge
the beast. However, with the combined efforts of Marine Police and Jalousie
Plantation Resort, roared on by the many bystanders, some walked from as far afield as Canaries to take part in the event. It was a
triumph of man and engine power as the giant shark was finally freed.

The
animal was slowly towed into the open sea, parallel to the dive boat, helping
to resuscitate by unclogging its gills. A mile off shore, the ropes were untied
and the whale shark dived into the blue . . . never to be seen again . . .
hopefully!

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