Smallest living "butanding" rescued in Pilar

Legazpi City --Environment activists rescued what they believe might be the smallest living offspring of the world’s biggest fish— a whaleshark (rhincodon typus) the size of a forearm.

The World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature said maritime officials, along with the environment activists in Pilar, Sorsogon, a town in the eastern Philippines, rescued the 15 inch–long newborn whale shark last week and released it in deep waters.

Its tail was tied to small rope on a beach when the rescuers discovered the creature. The group called it “arguably the smallest living whale shark in recorded history.”

WWF said the discovery is the first ever indication that these parts of Sorsogon coastlines, which includes Donsol town known as the whale shark capital of the world, may really be their birthing ground.

The group has encountered very few baby whale sharks and can only compare the size of its new discovery to embryos found in a dead female shark in 1996 – which measured 14.6 to 18.9 inches (37 to 48 centimeters), according to Elson Aca, project manager for the WWF whale shark tracking project.

The gentle creatures, which can grow to be as big as a bus, make regular stops along the Philippines’ eastern shores from December to May, attracting thousands of tourists.

But little is known about where they breed as they cruise the world seas. (PIA V)