Gallery 3.5: Releasing Whale Sharks

Unlike the handling techniques for sharks and rays discussed above, whale sharks should always be dealt with in the water.

At no time should the whale shark be handled by its tail (e.g., lifted using the crane, or towed it with a speed boat). This can cause severe injury to the animal. (Photo: Poisson et al, 2012)

If a whale shark appears early during hauling and is at the surface while the tunas remain below, then the animal may tear the net on its own or a crew member can cut a few meters of net near the head of the animal to allow it to escape. Alternatively, the crew in charge of the net hauling operation can use the winch and the capstan to bring the animal close to the hull, to drain the animal, and then to roll it outside the bunt. A rope placed under the animal and tied on the cork line could help roll it outside the net (Photo: Poisson et al, 2012)