Watch dramatic rescue of trapped whale shark

Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 7 December 2020: A successful joint rescue mission between the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), and The National Aquarium (TNA), has relocated a trapped whale shark back to the open sea in the Arabian Gulf.

The 6m shark was noticed circling 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 unable to feed or to avoid unwanted human interactions.

After the assessment, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi initiated the rescue mission, supported by the National Aquarium team’s expertise and equipment. TNA’s team was a key component in the implementation of the rescue plan commenced with the joint effort of both teams.

Using a soft plastic through-water transport bag developed specifically by The National Aquarium, the team of divers carefully captured the animal under EAD supervision. The first of its kind transport bag was able to move through water faster than the shark’s 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.

Continuously Tracked

Before release, a satellite tag provided by King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia was fitted. In the first 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.

Thanks to the teamwork and collaboration from the many parties involved, including Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Maritime, Abu Dhabi Ports, Department of Municipalities and Transport, Abu Dhabi Marine, Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority and Aldar Properties, this majestic creature was saved and a new method for whale sharks in water transportation was proven.

EAD called on the community to report injured wildlife or environmental emergencies, through the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre at 800555.


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