London, March 10 (ANI): Activists in the Philippines have rescued what they believe might be the world's smallest living whale shark in recorded history.
According to a report in Telegraph, maritime officials and activists in Pilar, a town in the eastern Philippines, rescued the 15-inch-long whale shark last week and released it in deep waters.
Its tail was tied to a small rope on a beach.
WWF said the discovery is the first ever indication that this coastline may be their birthing ground.
On the morning of March 7th, word reached Nitz Pedragosa, Donsol's Tourism Officer, that a whale shark had been caught on March 6th in nearby San Antonio, a barangay of Pilar town, adjacent to Donsol.
It was allegedly tied up, and being sold. Very quickly, she sent Embet Guadamor, a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) from Donsol, to inform the town's Municipal Agricultural officer.
Elson Aca, WWF's Project Leader in Donsol, also came to investigate.
The team expected to see a giant animal helplessly stuck, its tall dorsal fin and tail sticking out of the water.
But, there was nothing there. All they saw was a stick, stuck in sand, with a small rope leading away from it, into the water.
When Elson walked up to the stick, he was amazed to find the smallest whale shark he had ever seen - a mere 15 inches long.
The team freed the shark from the rope that was tied around its tail. After checking to see that the animal was unhurt, documenting the discovery, and measuring the shark, they transferred it into a large, water-filled plastic bag to allow it to swim freely while preparing for its release.
Less than three hours after the report first reached Donsol, the response team was back on their banca, with the shark safely in hand.
They took the shark out to deeper water, where it was less likely to get entangled in a fish net, and there - they set it free.
Not only is this animal the smallest live whale shark on record ever to be captured and released here in the Philippines, it is also the first indication that the Philippines, at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is probably one of the places on the planet where these giants of the sea are born. (ANI)