Chikiti: Tourists on the beach at Sunupur under Chikiti block in Ganjam district were instrumental in saving a rare 15-foot-long whale shark Thursday. Local people and tourists were out on a stroll on the beach when the shark was suddenly swept ashore. People on the beach, who spotted the shark immediately provided a protective ring around the shark to prevent stray dogs from harming it.
As the news spread about the shark, hundreds of people thronged the spot to have a glimpse of the mammal.
The locals informed DFO, Berhampur AK Nayak, who directed Tamana forester Rupak Kumar Pradhan to help the shark out and get it back into the water.
A team led by Pradhan reached the spot and with the help of local residents and the tourists took the shark into the sea and released it. “We felt satisfied after seeing the shark back in water unhurt,” observed some of them.
Locals however, alleged that such rare species of whale shark have been sighted thrice since 2018. However, the forest department is hardly taking any steps for their protection.
When contacted, DFO Nayak said, “The whale shark was 15-foot long. There have been frequent incidents of such rare sharks being washed ashore. We will take steps to create awareness among the local as to how they can protect such aquatic animals. This apart, we are preparing a blueprint to attract more and more tourists to this part of the beach.”