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Taiwan Whale Shark Release Criticized

National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium could have killed whale shark during release, animal rights group claims.

July 23, 2013

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The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST), an animal rights organization, has criticized the July 10 handling and release of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) by Taiwan's National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. According to The China Post, the shark, the largest fish species in the world, got too big for its tank, and the aquarium decided to release it.

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how not to release a whale shark

A whale shark release gone awry in Taiwan. Screengrab courtesy Formosa English News/YouTube

However, EAST says that the release was way too close to shore and athe shark got stranded on the shoreline twice. EAST CEO Chu Tseng-hung said that the aquarium didn't even release the shark but rather abandoned it on the shoreline after it beached itself twice. Chu told The Post that the aquarium made no attempts to train the shark to live in the ocean, noting that it had lived at the aquarium for eight years. The aquarium, however, defended the release of the animal. Video provided by Formosa English News shows the aquarium's efforts to release the shark.


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Chu told The Post that not only did the aquarium have no idea how to release the shark, which weighed an estimated 3,600 kilograms, the aquarium didn't even have a backup plan for the shark when it beached itself on the shoreline. He said that video documenting the release of the animal showed aquarium workers trying to move the shark with their hands. Chu also noted that since the aquarium didn't put a GPS tracking device on the animal, there was no way to determine if the shark survived the release.   

 

Question of the Day: Should whale sharks even be held captive in aquariums? Join the discussion in the comments below.

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