Center of attention: A whale shark stranded at Baru Pandan Simo Beach in Bantul, Yogyakarta, on Wednesday. The giant creature, which died on Thursday, attracted many people who wanted to see the giant creature at a close distance. (JP/Slamet Susanto)
A 13-meter black whale shark, which was stranded at Baru beach in Bantul, Yogyakarta, on Wednesday evening, finally died after rescue teams with the help of local fishermen failed to drag the giant mammal back to sea.
“The shark ran ashore on Wednesday. It was still alive when we found it at around 6 p.m.,” said a local fisherman, Gambos, on Thursday.
The whale shark, which has spot patterns on its skin, died of exhaustion after trying to head back to sea, according to Baru beach rescue team member Suparman.
He said rescue teams and local fisherman had tried to evacuate the whale shark back to sea with a boat, but the vessel had been too small to pull the four ton whale, he said.
“Despite its giant size, this whale shark was still young. Its length could have reached up to 20 meters [in subsequent years],” he said.
According to Bandis, the coordinator of local NGO Animal Friends Yogyakarta, the whale shark ran ashore on Baru beach when it was looking for food. Whale sharks look for food alone or in groups. They feed on macro-algae, plankton, krill, small squid, vertebrates or small fish.
"They migrate from Australian waters and pass through Indonesian waters,” Bandis said.
The stranded whale shark, he said, had become separated from its group. Previously, he had spotted around seven whale sharks who were about to run ashore. “But they can find their way back to deep waters,” he said.
In Indonesia, whale shark is a protected mammal under Law no. 5/1990.
The NGO decided to bury the carcass rather that take it back to sea, as the latter option proved difficult.
Bandis said his NGO had negotiated with locals on how to bury the whale shark carcass. “We will cut the carcass into pieces before burying it.”
Meanwhile, thousands of local residents flocked to Baru beach to watch the stranded whale shark.
“It’s not every day that we see a gigantic fish,” said Arum Santoso, a local resident. (riz)