A baby whale shark that washed ashore off the Pati Sonepur coast of Odisha’s Ganjam district was rescued and released into sea by some locals on Sunday.

According to Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ashis Behera, the rescued whale shark was around eight to nine feet long, hinting that it was still a baby.

Adult whale sharks are usually over 40 feet in length. Photographs of the animal showed it had no injuries.

Took an hour

On Sunday, a group of locals sighted the whale shark on the Pati Sonepur beach, about 35 km from Berhampur. When they saw that it was still alive, they made efforts to get it back into sea.

It took about an hour for the group to push the whale shark back into the sea. It immediately swam into the deep waters, they said. Berhampur DFO commended the efforts of the locals.

In February 2009, a 19 feet long carcass of a whale shark had been washed ashore off the Ganjam district coast near Gopalpur.

In June 2010, a 30 feet long decomposed body of a whale shark had been located in the same area.

According to zoologist and cetacean expert Muntaz Khan, carcasses of whale sharks have been found near Gopalpur, Rushikulya river mouth, Chilika lake coast, Devi river mouth, Bhitarkanika and Balasore off Odisha coast in the past.

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