Wildlife & Biodiversity

Carcass of whale shark found in Odisha

Forest officer guesses the animal was hit by a marine vessel; autopsy due

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Thursday 31 December 2020

The carcass of a whale shark washed ashore December 31, 2020 three kilometres from the coast near the Baradia river mouth in Odisha’s Balasore district, local fishing workers informed forest officials.    

“The shark was perhaps hit by some ship or fishing vessel deep sea and the body was washed ashore,” Sukumar Dash, Chandipur forest range officer, said. The 12-feet-long whale shark had scars and evidence of previous entanglements — common for the species because of their feeding habits Dash added. An autopsy is due.

Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and an ‘endangered’ species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was also a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed specimen was 18.8 metres. Whale sharks hold many records, most notably for being the largest living nonmammalian vertebrate.

“The whale shark is a filter-feeder shark, which means it does not eat meat like other sharks. They filter sea water and feed on tiny planktons. They are distributed globally, but the population is declining in India,” Sajan John of Wildlife Trust of India, said. “The largest whale shark aggregation is in Gujarat; the only aggregation along east coast is in Andhra Pradesh. Accidental entanglement in fishing net is a major threat to this animal. Whale sharks  have no any commercial importance, but fishers illegally extract their fins and livers,” added John who has works to conserve whale sharks in Gujarat. 

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