Gallery 4.3: Shark and Ray Handling and Release

Shark anatomy 

Proper and handling of medium-sized sharks, and correct release positions (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

Do NOT hold a shark by its tail, or from its gills (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

When handling a sting ray, hold it by its body and away from your body to avoid injury from its spine. Do NOT carry it by its tail. These instructions also apply to small manta rays, which can be safely carried with a person holding each wing. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

Manta rays can be released directly from the brailer. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

If the whale shark is at the surface and separated from the tunas, the animal can tear the net (or a crew member can cut a few meters of net in front of the animal’s head), and then swim freely out of the net. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

A whale shark should NEVER be pulled by its tail. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

Proper handling positions for small sharks (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

For a shark that cannot be released immediately, keep it cool (out of the sun, with a wet towel draped lightly over its head), and with a fish in its mouth to prevent bites or a hose to allow it to breathe (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

Do NOT step on a shark, handle it with a gaff or other sharp object, or throw it on the ground, as all of these actions can severely damage its internal organs (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

Alternatively, the manta ray can be brailed onto a tarp on deck that is then lifted by the crane and released over the side. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)

An alternative technique requires the crew in charge of the net hauling operation to use the winch and the capstan to bring the whale shark close to the hull, onto the floatline, and then roll it outside the bunt. In this case, a rope placed under the animal and attached to the floatline could help roll the whale shark out of the net. (Photo: Poisson et al 2012)