Indonesia: Divers Spot Badly Injured Whale Shark in Bali

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 1 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The authorities are trying to locate a badly injured whale shark that was spotted by divers in the Nusa Penida marine conservation area in Bali earlier this week.

A picture of the shark was circulated on various social media sites after tourist divers Marketa Olmerova and Aldrich Olmer found the giant fish swimming slowly and bleeding heavily on Wednesday (29/06).

The two divers noticed five cuts around the shark's fins and abdomen, presumably caused by a speedboat propeller. They reported their discovery to dive operator and marine foundation Coral Triangle Center (CTC), which is located on Nusa Penida.

The news also caught the attention of the Klungklung district's Marine and Fisheries Agency, as well as the Denpasar Center for Coastal and Marine Resources (BPSPL), which prompted the authorities and the CTC to launch an attempt at rescuing the severely injured fish, as reported by environmental news outlet Mongabay Indonesia.

"Yesterday we found a whale shark, but it was not the injured one. It is still on the loose," the CTC's Nusa Penida coordinator Wira Sanjaya said on Friday. "We are currently monitoring the situation on a daily basis, and cooperating with veterinarians for medical treatment."

According to Wira, they have issued a code of conduct for divers and boat operators to ensure proper handling of such situations in future.

"The whale shark is still a baby, so we're afraid it won't be able to survive," Marthen Welly of the CTC's Learning Site Center told Mongabay.

There are usually several whale sharks present in the Nusa Penida area during this time of year, coinciding with their annual migration. Whale sharks were also spotted in Gorontalo and Sulawesi since last month, state-run Antara news agency reported.

The sharks are a protected species in Indonesia and the authorities are looking at the establishment of a public education program to promote conservation efforts.

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