15-ft whale shark released into the deep sea in Odisha

15-ft whale shark released into the deep sea in Odisha
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Berhampur, Odisha: Local fishermen, villagers, and the forest department have released a 15-feet long whale shark into the Bay of Bengal after it came to the net line, officials said on Friday.

The fish was released into the sea on Thursday, they said.

It came into the net line during fishing in the sea near Pati Sonepur at Ganjam district in south Odisha, about 20 km away from here, the official said.

Since the 1500 kg fish was alive, the fishermen along with villagers and forest staff released it into the deep sea, the forest department officials said.

Whale sharks are known to be the largest living non-mammalian vertebrates. It is a slow-moving fish that swims close to the water surface as it feeds on plankton. It comes near the Odisha beach generally from February to May every year.

We have deployed forest personnel on the beach during the night to watch for any development said Berhampur forest range officer D K Martha.

If the whale shark dies it will wash ashore due to the tidal wave of the sea, he said.

Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and an endangered species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In 2020 at least four whale sharks had died on the Odisha coast, including three on the Ganjam coast at Gopalpur, Pati Sonepur, and Kantiagada, forest department sources said.