Monday, February 13, 2012

Experts to cut up 40.1-foot long whale shark today

Over 40 foot giant whale shark caught in Pakistan! Tribune

The big fish that was on show for twenty rupees for a day is leaving behind a trail of controversies and tears as the Karachi Fish Harbour Authority (KFHA), tried to preserve its decaying carcass.

The whale shark has stirred quite an interest among wildlife experts, some of whom are on their way to Karachi from the United Kingdom to carry out an autopsy and figure out the cause of death.

On Wednesday night, officials from the KFHA came in and removed the tents around the fish. They claim that the fish was actually government property and could not be put on display. They added that Haji Qasim, the man who had bought the whale shark for Rs200,000 would be compensated. On the other hand, the fisherman, who had towed the sea creature in, said that he wasn’t compensated properly.

According to the director general of the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD), Shaukat Hussain, the whale shark was a 40.1-foot long female and weighed 15 tonnes. He said that this was the second largest fish to be found in Pakistan. The director general added that a 41.5-foot long whale shark was found off Karachi’s coast in 1947.

Nip and tuck

Wearing a white lab coat, Hussain said that they had planned to cut the fish open on Friday (today).

He insisted that there was no need to wait for foreign experts despite the fact that Hussain or experts at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) or Sindh Wild Life department have never done anything like this before. “I have asked experts from the PCSIR, National Institute of Oceanography, Sindh Wild Life department and academics from the University of Karachi’s marine biology department to collect samples.”

When asked if they had ever worked on a fish this big, Hussain said that they had worked on large fish so it should be different or difficult. The MFD could not determine if the whale shark was pregnant.

They claim that it died a natural death as they could not see any marks on the body. Dr Pirzada Jamal from the Pakistan Museum of Natural History is planning to come to Karachi to see if the fish could be preserved and flown to Islamabad for an exhibition.

The body of the whale shark is currently being preserved in ice in a room at the deserted Natural History Museum.


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