KUCHING: A whale shark entangled by a rope was rescued by seven anglers in the sea near Santubong yesterday, sending social media into a frenzy over their heroic act.
Zaidi Suhaili, 55, who shot the video of the rescue, was surprised by the attention they had received online.
“I have never thought that the video would go viral. Still, all of us felt satisfied being able to save the whale shark since it is considered as an endangered species,” he said when interviewed by The Borneo Post today.
The anglers were on the last day of their three-day fishing trip yesterday when the whale shark suddenly swam to the surface near their boat at about 11am.
“When the shark approached our boat and doesn’t seem to want to leave, it was as if it was asking for help,” recalled Zaidi, who goes on fishing trips almost every weekend.
The thick rope was strung around the fins of the shark, constricting its movement.
Zaidi said that he and the other anglers on seeing the whale shark, decided to save it by cutting the rope.
One of the anglers used a pole with a hook at one end to hold the rope up as another angler cut through the rope with a cleaver.
After the rope was cut, the shark can be seen in Zaidi’s video flicking its tail as if it was showing its gratitude to the anglers before swimming away from the boat. The anglers bid their farewell to it too.
Zaidi, who works at Kuching Polytechnic Sarawak, said this was his third time meeting a whale shark but it was his first time saving one.
His video was also shared in the Malaysian Animal Association Facebook page today and garnered 47,000 views from netizens as well as more than 1,700 shares and over 4,000 reactions.
The anglers were widely congratulated for their deed.
“Thank you to all who cut the rope, not everyone has a heart like all of you. The whale shark is so happy that it flicked its tail to say ‘thank you’,” Facebook user Aima Bahgdad commented.
Another user by the name Ibrahamsah Awang Majid expressed his gratitude to the anglers for saving a life.
The whale shark, which is the largest living non mammalian vertebrate, is a totally protected species and is an endangered animal in Sarawak waters.
In March this year, a whale shark, weighing 1.5 tonnes and over 6m long, was found dead near Miri after it became entangled in fishermen’s nets.