A whale shark that has been frequently observed over the past month in an area under the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon, Florida, recently received some help from local veterinarian Doug Mader, according to the Florida Keys Keynoter.
Mader, who had never seen a whale shark in the wild, jumped in the water with the 7.5 meter (25′) animal and cut loose monofilament fishing line that the shark’s caudal fin had become entangled in. According to Mader, fishing line entanglement can lead to loss of limbs in marine animals due to cutting off blood supply. According to the article, Mader was able to free the shark of the fishing line within “15-20 seconds.” Mader was unable to remove the fish hook from the shark’s caudal fin, which will eventually rust and fall out. Mader also noted that the shark’s caudal fin also had propeller damage, but that he believed the shark would heal just fine.
While whale sharks are typically found in deeper water than that under the Vaca Cut Bridge, Mader suspected that the strong currents and thick plankton are providing the whale shark with a steady food source. While Mader encouraged people to view the shark from the Vaca Cut Bridge, he recommends that people not to enter the water to approach the animal.