Beached Whale Shark Saved By Rescuers

A beached whale shark was saved by brave rescuers who dragged it back into the sea.


The animal got stuck on the sandy plains in the town of Knysna in Western Cape Province, in southern South Africa.


Around 20 rescuers, some from the National Sea Rescue Institute, dragged the shark back into the waters and kept it alive by repeatedly pouring water over it as they carried out the mission.


Workers from the National Sea Rescue Institute have since said they are "cautiously optimistic" that the animal will survive and are believed to be keeping an eye on it in the sea thanks to a tracking device.


Marine experts kept the shark alive by pouring buckets of water into its mouth and pumping water through its gills, as it was not strong enough to swim away when it first returned to the water.


The deputy station commander of NSRI Knysna, Declan Nurse said the rescue mission started on Saturday morning.


He said: "On arrival on the scene the animal, appearing to be weak and in ill health, was assisted with breathing using a water pump to pump water through its gills and the animal appeared to gather strength.


"Advice was sought from specialists and we were joined on the scene by SA National Park Rangers and Knysna Motor Strippers towing company provided towing strops which were used to attempt to return the animal to the water.


"A group of paddlers joined the efforts to try to save the whale shark."


He said the animal kept trying to return to the bay though as the waters were warmer, which is what it is used to.


He continued: "It is strongly suspected, according to marine specialists and vets, that the cold water was what affected the animal - normally found further north in Kwa-Zulu Natal in warmer waters.


"We then used the strops provided to tow the animal using our sea rescue craft and attempts were made to return the animal to deep sea water beyond the Heads in an effort to give the animal its best chance at survival but each time we neared the Heads, where water temperature was colder, the whale shark escaped and returned to the shallower warmer waters nearer to sand banks."


The whale shark was last noted to be around a mile from the lagoon in shallower warmer waters and is being monitored by rangers.