‘Sea monster’ 9 meters long was discovered by Ecuadorian fishermen on a beach

Nearly a hundred police officers, animal rescuers, and concerned citizens banded together to try to save a nine-meter female whale shark that washed up on a beach near the Ecuadorian town of Santa Marianita.

Image: Tanya Layman

Local fishermen spotted the 16-ton shark as it rolled into the surf. While officials attempted to roll the shark back to sea with boats and diggers, volunteers used hoses and buckets to keep water flowing over the animal’s gills and held shade overhead to protect its skin from the scorching sun.

“They did their best,” says eyewitness Tanya Layman.

Image: Tanya Layman

Despite all efforts to save it, the animal died after six hours because whale sharks’ cartilaginous skeletons aren’t designed to support such massive weight without the assistance of water.

Image: Tanya Layman

The stranding is believed to be the first of its kind in the area, but whale shark strandings have occurred elsewhere in the world, including along the South Αfrican and Αustralian coasts. The majority of these incidents, however, have involved juvenile animals much smaller than this large female. These gentle giants are thought to strand due to sudden changes in water temperature and strong wave action, but in this case, the animal was sick. “They ended up doing a necropsy in a nearby town and it revealed that the shark had a blood infection,” Layman explains. “They believe this is why she beached herself.”

Image: Tanya Layman

Shirts and kites from a local kiteboarding school were used to protect the shark’s skin.

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