Artenschutz: Augenzeugenbericht zum gefinnten Walhai

Ein Bericht von Kerill Ezzy:

We did our first boat dive for that day at Kirby’s Rocks. We were to do our Surface Interval at a little cove on the Western tip of Sepoc Point on Maricaban Island. It was just before 11am in the morning. There were only four tourist divers on our trip – two from Holland and my husband and I (my husband, Jason, incidentally, took the majority of the photos I have posted as I was assisting in wetting the shark and keeping water moving in her gills)
When we moored, there was another dive boat in the location (it is a drop down point for another dive site called ‚The Saddle‘) and they informed our dive master (who is also one of the owners of Planet Dive) that a whale shark had washed up on the other side of the island in cove just South of our last entry point.

Our DM requested that we go there and see if we could help. I don’t know if, at this stage he knew what had happened.
As soon as we saw her, we all realised what had happened. It was devastating. We had heard that there were two whale sharks sighted in water recently in the area. This wasn’t a way I thought or hoped to see such a beautiful creature.

When we got to the whale shark, the local fish wardens were already there and so was one uniformed officer. I can’t actually remember who he was with but I think he was higher up the fishing policing chain than the others as he was recording all the details that were being communicated. to him. All of them were visibly upset by what had happened to her. They were watering her as best they could and studying her wounds.

Our DM (Joey from Planet Dive), as an active and well respected member of the community there and as a person who actually was part of the dive community who pushed for the fishing restrictions in the area, advised the wardens that we should be trying to get her back in the water so that at least we could ease her death rather than her literarily cooking in the sun. It is important to remember that she was washed up on rocky shores, in the heat, in an isolated area of the island (just north of Tingloy township but definately not accessible by road) so doing this was not easy. We were the only dive boat there at that time but that meant we could add 6 more bodies to the task.

They wedged bamboo under her, lifting and rolling her to get it under her belly so that they laid a path of bamboo for her to help them roll her into the water. It took about 20 minutes of lifting and shunting and shifting until she was back in the water. Her skin was like soft sand paper and you could feel her ‚breathing‘ and her muscles move when you put your hands on her. I had the privilege of feeling her life in her..

After they had moved her and she was more comfortable, our DM insisted that we put on our masks and go under water to witness her eyes – the pain and confusion of a beast that had suffered and was suffering so much because of greed. He said to me, ‚Look into her eyes. She is dying … ‚ I never ever want to see that look again. I know that ‚fish‘ are supposed to be pretty unintelligent and perhaps they are but all animals know pain and all animals have a will to survive… I think she knew that she was not going to survive – she had no control in the water but it did not stop her from trying…

When she was back in the water, her tail still kept moving, trying to sweep her back into the ocean, while her body was being tilted from side to side, at the mercy of the wavelets that were rolling over her. It was such a pitiful site to see and I have to admit that I struggled emotionally with the whole image and still do.

Our DM called us off after we had her back in the water but we decided that she had to be maneuvered a bit more to ensure that she did not wash up again and so we further assisted with that. I think we were all so shocked that we did not want to leave but Joey said it was in the hands of the authorities now and we had helped her all we could. The wardens had measured her cuts and had decided that the best hope they had of finding the killers was by keeping an eye on the markets and hoping that her fins turned up there. Frankly I think there is little hope that the culprits will be found but I hope for their sakes, it is not one of us who witnessed this savage act who finds them.

After our next dive, we returned to the cove but she was no longer there. I guess we all just assumed that she had died and that the fish wardens had taken her out to sea. Although a suggestion had been made that perhaps, on her death, she should be donated to the local community so that her death was not a complete waste, we all hoped that this would not be the case. Surely in doing this, it was almost an encouragement to not prevent the deaths as the locals still benefitted from it. It is up to the locals to help prevent this sort of death from happening, just as it is all our responsibilities to prevent it as well.

I have heard all the stories about what supposedly happened to the whale shark later and I can’t say I truly know what happened. I do know that moving her anywhere would have been extremely difficult and would probably have hurt her even more. Even though she was a young shark, she was very heavy so transporting her by using a local banca would have probably entailed some pretty questionable techniques.

It was interesting to read that there had been sightings of fishing boats in the area that came from another region. I believe that the night before we found the shark, we heard generators out on the waters near our accommodation but I can’t be sure if it was fishing boats or not. I hoped it was not and trusted that considering we were staying at Planet Dive which has a well known and often dived house reef, this would not have occurred there.“

I hope that helps with the info you are after… I have read various ’stories‘ on what happened to the shark but am not sure what is the real truth to it after we saw her. I can be pretty sure though that it was opportunistic. some fisherman caught her in his nets and saw money… so very sad and shitty.

I am now putting together a lesson plan on shark finning so that I can educate kids here in Macau and hopefully in Hong Kong. We have to stop the demand in order to stop the supply and getting through to the adults is hopeless – we have to work with the kids now to change the thinking…

Anyway… please feel free to post the photos – get them out there. Jason took some honest photos there. I just wish that they had never had to have been taken and that the whale shark was still wafting along in the ocean, vacuuming up plankton….