WTI field personnel in the process of tagging a male whale shark off the Sutrapada coast
Sutrapada, Gujarat, November 13, 2017: A male whale shark, 22 feet long, was satellite tagged by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) field personnel in the coastal waters off the fishing village of Sutrapada on the Saurashtra coast on November 11. This marks the eighth successful tagging accomplished under the Whale Shark Conservation Project, run by WTI and the Gujarat Forest Department with support from Tata Chemicals Ltd.
In keeping with the altered operating protocol initiated in December 2016, the WTI team has been networking with OBM (outboard motor) fishing boats to receive timely intimations of ongoing whale shark rescues. This change in protocol has previously borne fruit in the form of two successful whale shark taggings, one of which has enabled WTI to track a female whale shark for over 200 days – the longest whale shark migratory movement to be tracked from the Indian subcontinent.
In the incident on November 11, an OBM fisherman named Mohan Pancha Chauhan informed the WTI rescue team that a whale shark was entangled in his fishing nets off the Sutrapada coast. As per procedure, the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Junagadh was informed and local forest officials were involved in the rescue and tagging operation. The WTI team collected a tissue sample for genetic analysis, after which the satellite tag was attached and the whale shark freed.
The deployed tag has been programmed to transmit signals every day for the first 20 days and every alternate day following that. It is hoped that the tracking data received from the tag will help scientists develop a better understanding of whale shark migratory behaviour in Indian as well as international waters.