A first-of-its-kind wildlife rescue operation has helped a critically endangered whale shark swim back to its habitat after it found itself stranded in a man-made lagoon in Abu Dhabi.
The six-metre whale shark – the world’s largest fish – had lost its way and became stranded in the lagoon in Al Bahiyah area. It became apparent that the whale shark was lost as it was swimming around in circles and finding it difficult to feed. The only exit to the Arabian Gulf was 20km away.
A wildlife rescue team with officials from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and the National Aquarium swung into action to create a first-of-its-kind transportation bag.
According to a video shared by the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office, the team had “one shot” to capture the shark and move it safely into the bag. The capture was done, as divers monitored the shark to ensure its wellbeing.
The Abu Dhabi Marine Club stepped in to help tow the shark 20km away to the Arabian Gulf. The process took five hours, after which the whale shark was safely released.
“A tracking device has also been installed on the shark to monitor its movements and increase understanding of its behaviour,” the media office tweeted.
So far, it has traveled more than 250km. It is heading towards a whale shark aggregation.