A six metre long whale shark who lost its way was released back to the open sea in the Arabian Gulf by The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and The National Aquarium (TNA).
The whale shark was relocated after noticing inside a man-made lagoon in the Al Bahiyah area. After close monitoring by EAD’s scientists, it was clear that the animal was trapped and was unable to feed. 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.
After an assessment, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi ( EAD ) initiated the rescue mission, supported by the National Aquarium team’s expertise and equipment. The rescue plan commenced by the joint effort of both teams included a soft plastic through-water transport bag developed specifically by The National Aquarium.
The 1st of its kind transport bag was able to move through water faster than the sharks normal swimming speed. Jet ski operators from Abu Dhabi Marine Club towed the transport bag carefully for 20km out into the Arabian Gulf whilst rescue team monitored its vital signs by staging divers along the shark’s path.
Before release, a satellite tag provided by King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia was fitted. In the 1st five days after the release, the animal travelled 232km into the Arabian Gulf which is a good indication of a healthy shark. The whale shark is now being continuously tracked as it makes its way to join other whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf migration.
EAD called on the community to report injured wildlife or environmental emergencies, through the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre at 800555.