South Africa
Whale Shark in Kynsna lagoon

On Saturday morning, the Knysna NSRI responded to reports of a Whale Shark that was stranded on the shoreline 4 kilometers inside the Knysna Lagoon.

On arrival at 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 the NSRI was joined on the scene by SA National Park Rangers and Knysna Motor Strippers, a towing company that 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.

Once in deeper water initially the animal appeared to swim but on further observation the animal appeared to lose the will to fight and it is strongly suspected, according to Marine Specialists and Vets, that the cold water was affecting the animal – normally found further North in Kwa-Zulu Natal in warmer waters.

The rescuers then used the strops to tow the animal using the NSRI 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.

However, each time they neared the Heads, where water temperature was colder, the Whale Shark escaped and returned to the shallower warmer waters nearer to the sand banks.

The Whale Shark is currently about a nautical mile inside the Heads in shallower warmer waters and SAN Park rangers will continue to monitor the animal which remains close to their offices.

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