Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 |
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HONOLULU — A young whale shark entangled in a heavy gauge line was spotted twice last week off the coast of Maui.
The line is wrapped around the endangered animal’s mid-section, cutting into the large sea creature, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said.
The juvenile whale shark, which officials described as “somewhat emaciated,” was observed on July 8 near Olowalu. It was spotted again Thursday near Molokini, off of Maui’s south shore.
A group of divers photographed the animal, reporting it to be about 20 feet (6 meters) in length. Hollis Romanchik, of ProDiver Maui, said she got a close-up view of the line threatening the animal’s life.
“It looked like (the line) got on it when it was a lot younger because you can see the scarring and indentation on its body from it growing around it, but it looks like it got caught in it when it was much smaller,” Romanchik told KHON-TV.
Romanchik attempted to use a knife to free the animal.
“I tried to make a cut on the line, but it was a really thick line, probably an inch thick,” Romanchik said. “But as soon as I put my hand on the animal, it jerked away.”
Officials ask those who spot the whale shark to report its location to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A team from NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program is trained to remove such entanglements and may try to remove the line if conditions and resources allow, officials said.
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