Whale Shark Tagged with Satellite in Gujarat Rescue Operation

WTI and the Gujarat Forest Department have successfully tagged a tenth whale shark with a satellite transmitter as part of ongoing research efforts to understand the migration patterns of these majestic creatures.

The incident unfolded when a 30-foot-long adult female whale shark became ensnared in a fishing net off the Sutrapada coast in Gujarat’s Gir-Somnath district. Responding swiftly, local fishermen teamed up with the Gujarat Forest Department and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to launch a coordinated rescue operation. After being carefully disentangled, the whale shark was outfitted with a satellite transmitter and released back into the sea.

This tagging initiative is critical for gathering data that will inform conservation strategies for these large marine animals, which traverse extensive ocean territories across geopolitical boundaries.

Sajan John, Marine Specialist at WTI, emphasized the importance of satellite tag data for developing effective conservation plans, particularly for megafauna like whale sharks that rely on vast marine areas.

Akshay Joshi, IFS, Deputy Conservator of Forests in the Junagadh Forest Division, highlighted the collaborative effort between the Gujarat Forest Department and WTI to study whale shark habitat use and migration, aiming to establish sustainable conservation measures for these globally threatened and legally protected marine species in Gujarat waters.

Whale sharks, known as the largest fish in the world, play a critical role as a keystone species in marine ecosystems. However, their extensive migrations expose them to various threats, including habitat destruction, unsustainable fishing practices, accidental entanglement in nets, and coastal pollution, collectively pushing them towards extinction.

Recognizing the grave risks facing whale sharks, the Indian Government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has granted them the highest level of protection under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, making them the first fish species to receive nationwide conservation status


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