Sutrapada, Gujarat, December 30, 2016: A female whale shark was satellite tagged by WTI field personnel at 10.35am today, in the coastal waters off the fishing village of Sutrapada.
This marks the seventh successful tagging accomplished under the Whale Shark Conservation Project, run by WTI and the Gujarat Forest Department with support from Tata Chemicals Ltd. It is also the second successful tagging within the last ten days, after another female was tagged on the morning of December 23, also off the Sutrapada coast.
The whale shark, about 18-20 feet in length, was in good health and quite active.
These satellite taggings are especially significant since no whale sharks had been tagged in the preceding 15 months. A change of protocol this month, with the WTI team now networking with OBM (outboard motor) fishing boats to receive timely intimations of ongoing whale shark rescues, has borne fruit.
In keeping with this protocol, an OBM fisherman named Herabhai informed the WTI team at 9.30 this morning that a whale shark had been entangled in fishing nets approximately four nautical miles off the Sutrapada coast. The field team reached the location at 10.14am, having informed the Range Forest Officer and Customs Superintendent, who also participated in the rescue. The whale shark, about 18-20 feet in length, was in good health and quite active. A tissue sample was collected for genetic analysis, after which the satellite tag was attached and the whale shark freed.
The deployed tag has been programmed to transmit on alternate days and the team expects to receive the first signals tomorrow. Meanwhile, data received from the previous whale shark tagging reveals that the creature travelled 230.8km since December 23; it has not yet headed into the deep sea, making local movements along the coast, in and around the waters off Diu.