29 November, 2020

Who Cares For Moby Dick?

As the world moves towards saving them, in India there is an upsurge in whale shark hunting

Who Cares For Moby Dick?

SAILING from Mombassa to Porbander as a 10-year-old boy, wildlife film-maker Mike Pandey was captivated by the sight of mysterious gigantic creatures that swum alongside his ship. Forty years later, shooting for a film on coastal India in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, in ’96, Pandey was haunted by their memory. He stopped fishermen all along the coast, but no one seemed to know or want to volunteer anything about the badiachhli that had once swum in these warm waters. Finally, a boat - builder guided him to Veraval harbour. Whale sharks— the gigantic re a t u res of Pandey’s boyhood imagination— were there. Only now they no longer frolicked in the open seas, but lay beached and severed all along the shore. Hunted in alarmingly large numbers— sometimes four to five a day; going up to a thousand in one season!

Feared for centuries as mysterious monsters, whale sharks— which can grow up to an incredible 60 ft in length, weigh an average of 12,000 kg, and have a mouth five feet wide— could well be some-thing out of...



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