Monday 19 March 2012
While Cape Town enjoyed great surf yesterday, a juvenile whale shark lay dying as it wallowed in the shallows among rocks along the coast of the southern peninsula, writes Spike.
After surfing in the Soetwater reserve, a group of surfers noticed a juvenile whale shark (it was four metres long and adults grow up to 12 metres) struggling in a small rocky bay to the left of a surfing break.
They tried to get the shark into deep water, but it seemed lethargic and weak. A small crowd gathered as the surfers made gentle but futile efforts to nurse it out into the bay where it would have a fighting chance. However, the outer reefs were thumping with a 4-6′ swell, and lines of white water were always going to be an insurmountable barrier to the weakened and possibly wounded creature.
In response to a Tweet I made from the scene, Sarah Titley – head of the Shark Spotters programme – called for information, and followed up with a call to Marine and Coastal Management who couldn’t come immediately because they were busy with a dolphin somewhere else in the Cape Town area.
“I called the NSRI, who made there way there from the Kommetjie station. When I arrived, the shark was on the rocks and kids were jumping on its stomach. I shouted at them,” she said.
MCM has taken the creature to take samples and to determine the cause of death. Titley said that the presense of whale sharks in Cape Town waters was unusual but not unheard of. “I’ve know of juveniles washing up before, but not adults.”
She pointed out that the entry on whale sharks in Wikipedia states that the first recoded sighting of a whale shark in the world took place in the 1800s in Table Bay, Cape Town.
“The species was distinguished in April 1828 after the harpooning of a 4.6 metres (15.1 ft) specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. Andrew Smith, a military doctor associated with British troops stationed in Cape Town, described it the following year. The name “whale shark” comes from the fish’s physiology, being as large as many whales and also a filter feeder like many whale species.” – Wikipedia
courtesy= Spike (who was there) and http://www.wavescape.co.za/breaking-news/breaking-news/whale-shark-dies.html