whale shark 88.
(photo credit: )
Near the Nahsholim Beach, volunteers from the rescue team for the Israeli Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center managed to rescue a 10-meter-long whale shark that had become entangled in a fishing net on Saturday.
Representatives of the Fishing Division of the Agriculture Ministry were also on the scene, as the shark, which is rare in the eastern Mediterranean, was untangled.
Rescuers reported that the sharks was exhausted from its ordeal, and that they were still trying to aid it in leaving the coastal waters and swimming back out to the open seas.
Whale sharks, despite their large size (the largest ever found was 18 meters), have never been recorded as attacking a human. In fact, divers call them the "gentle giants". They are the world's largest living fish and in many areas, are considered protected species.
Earlier Saturday, researchers from Haifa University's Institute for Marine Science took samples from a 2.5-meter-long carcass of a young beached whale that washed up on the city's coast in an effort to determine the cause of the animal's death.
The team believes that the young whale swallowed large quantities of sewage that flowed into the ocean over the weekend.
Construction at waste-processing facilities in Haifa has caused the municipality to begin dumping raw untreated sewage directly into the Mediterranean, warned Tzalul, the Association for the Environmental Protection and Preservation of the Mediterranean Sea, Thursday.
While the whale may have been the largest casualty of the municipality's decision, the sewage flow also directly affected sunbathers at the Bat Galim beach, who risked coming into contact with the pollution.
Tzalul urged beachgoers to exercise caution, and criticized the city authorities, accusing them of negligence. "It is unacceptable that the Municipality of Haifa did not consider appropriate alternatives before implementing its maintenance program," said Tzalul in a statement. "It prefers to minimize the situation and endanger the health of its residents."
University researchers were also looking into reports that a group, or herd, of whales was making its way towards the coast of Israel, Israel Radio reported.