A juvenile whale shark who became stranded on a sandbar near Knysna South Africa is back in the sea thanks to the help of the National Sea Rescue Institute and a group of local paddlers.
On Saturday, 11th March, NSRI Knysna duty crew responded to stranded a whale shark in front of the St James Hotel 4 kilometers up inside of the Knysna Lagoon. 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 it’s 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 straps which were used to attempt to return the animal to the water.
Once in deeper water initially the animal appeared to swim but on further observation the animal seemed to lose the will to fight and 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 straps 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 is currently about a nautical mile from the Heads inside of the lagoon in shallower warmer waters and although we are cautiously optimistic that the Whale shark may survive SAN Park rangers will continue to monitor the animal which remains close to their offices.
NSRI thank all who assisted, SAN Park rangers and the public. [The Citizen]