Featured Image Credit: Marine Wiki
By Kira Krall
Two men recently prevented the monofilament mortality of a whale shark in Indonesia. The shark was struggling at the surface and after investigation, the swimmers jumped into the water to free it. In the rescue video, watch closely to see the diver removing the fishing line.
While whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea, they feed mostly on plankton. They spend their time at the surface swimming with their wide mouths open, sucking in all of the delicious microscopic plants and animals. Monofilament fishing line is less dense than seawater, so you can find it floating at the top of the water column right alongside the whale shark’s favorite food.
How long the monofilament was wrapped around the whale shark’s mouth is unclear, but the lacerations on the top and bottom of the mouth are likely from the filament digging in to the shark as it tried to open its mouth to feed. Armed with pliers and a video camera, the two men documented their freeing of the gentle giant.
Entanglement in marine debris is not a new issue. According to NOAA, over 200 marine species have been affected by it. Ingestion of marine debris is even more widespread. Everything from oysters to whales have been found with plastic in their digestive systems. Unfortunately, not every entangled sea creature can have their savior like this whale shark did.