Cape Town - Visitors and boat operators in the Garden Route are urged to be mindful of a massive whale shark currently residing in the Knysna lagoon.
UPDATE: WATCH: Knysna whale shark dies despite rescue efforts
The whale shark took up temporary residence in the lagoon in an attempt to avoid the colder water in the deeper ocean, outside of the Knysna heads, the National Sea Rescue Institute in the area says. But, the animal's reluctance to head out into the cold might be weakening it.
The NSRI assisted in a rescue attempt when the shark beached on Saturday, 11 March. Appearing ill and weak, the animal was assisted in breathing by pumping water through its gills, the NSRI said.
Although rescue workers from the NSRI and South African National Parks manage to strengthen the animal and swim it back out to the deep sea, it kept returning to the warmer waters close to the sand banks.
The NSRI says it strongly suspects that the cold water was affecting the animal negatively, as it is normally found further North in Kwa-Zulu Natal in warmer waters.
For now, although not ideal, the whale shark remains alive in the shallower waters off the coast of Knysna.
This is what it looks like -
According to Grant van Staden for the NSRI Knysna, the whale shark was still in the lagoon on Sunday afternoon at around dusk. He says SANParks officials are monitoring the animal and ensuring that boats stay clear of it.
Marine Specialists and Vets remain “cautiously optimistic that the whale shark may survive”.
This is what the rescue operation looked like -
What to read next on Traveller24:
- WATCH: Will Smith's bungee jump is just the thing to kick-start your week!
- ALERT: More 5m Spring Tide swells expected along Durban beach following monster waves
- Weather Update: High fire dangers might lead in rain in dry Western Cape