THUA THIEN-HUE – Local fishermen yesterday caught a whale shark near Chan May Beach in central Thua Thien-Hue Province, said village official Nguyen Xuan Dang.
The flattened-head whale shark had a black body with white spots and was 4.5m in length, with a trunk diameter of about 2,5 m and weight of more than 500kg.
Fisherman Tran Quang Son, from Binh An 2 Village in Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc District caught the fish about 7 km off shore.
As Son believed the fish to be a "holy fish" according to local legend, he dropped it back into the sea. But the fish was then too weak to go and was reported dead on the way to the sea.
According to village-head Dang, there used to be a 5 or 6 tonne blue whale in the area. However, this was the first time an immature whale shark was seen.
Dang said his villagers held a traditional burial ceremony for it in the area yesterday.
According to Nha Trang Oceanography Institute, whale sharks belong to a special subclass of Elasmobranchii (sharks, rays) of the cartilage fish (Chondrichthyes). This rare fish species was first identified in 1828 off the coast of South Africa and classified as one of the world's most threatened fish.
According to scientists, this is one of the biggest sharks. In Viet Nam it is included in the country Red Book. The fish is usually found in the Gulf of Tonkin and the East Sea with moderate behaviour and not dangerous to humans. – VNS