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Death on the beach: Residents flock to see a dead whale shark washed ashore on Parangkusumo beach in Bantul, Yogyakarta, on Saturday.(Antara/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)
A seven-meter whale shark (Rhincodon typus) of some 2 tons in weight was found stranded and dead at Parangkusumo Beach in Kretek, Bantul, Yogyakarta, on Friday night.
This was the second gigantic sea creature found at the same region this week after a 13-meter, 4-ton shark of the same kind became stranded and died on Wednesday on a neighboring beach, 10-kilometers to the west of Parangkusumo.
Ismail, a local youth, said he saw the shark was dying off the waters close to the beach at about 6 p.m. and about three hours later it had drifted to the shore and was already dead. “Fishermen then dragged it further to the beach,” he said.
Animal systematics expert Donan Satria Yuda of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Biology said that the phenomenon of two sharks found stranded in the area at the same week might indicate that they were hunting for plankton and small fish at the Yogyakarta’s Southern Beach area.
“Plankton and small fish are flaring in the area in June and July,” Donan said.
During this time, he added, coral reefs were ejecting sperm that then were eaten by the plankton and small fish, which later attracted the sharks. Apart from that, the dotted sharks also liked to swim near the beach.
He also said that the southern beach area might be rich in basins and that the sharks were trapped in them during the high tide, but could not swim back to sea when the tide was low.
Activists of the Animal Friend Jogja (AFJ) group were seen guarding the shark’s carcass as of Saturday. Dessy Angelina of the AFJ said she had coordinated with the local SAR team and Water Police to bury the shark.
Dessy also said she had been trying to make contact with the Australian government to seek information regarding why the two sharks were stranded in the Indonesian waters within such a short time. She said the dotted shark was protected in Australia but in Indonesia it was still categorized as endangered.
“We want to know the reason why, because Australia has already conducted research on this issue,” Dessy said.
The sharks, according to Dessy, were finding it difficult to proliferate and they were now on the brink of extinction.
She blamed the condition on drilling activities beaches, at the vibrations of which caused the shark to experience disorientation and such conditions made them easily stranded.
Other factors to blame, Dessy added, included global warming.
As of Saturday people were still seen flocking to the beach to look at the stranded creature, take pictures of it, or even strike a pose with the dead shark.
“I heard about the shark from Twitter. I came here because I wanted to have a closer look at something that I have never seen before,” resident Kricak Johan said.