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A large whale shark became stranded on a beach near Manta, on the coast of Ecuador yesterday. It was first reported by local fishers, swimming close to the shoreline, but eventually became stranded on the beach. Although a team of over 50 volunteers attempted to return it to sea, the whale shark eventually died.

From footage taken by eyewitnesses, the whale shark appeared to measure at least 10 meters but the gender was not reported. Whale sharks are thought to mature at approximately 8 meters.

“Whale sharks do occasionally strand – there have been a couple of cases recently in Peru – but the reasons are generally unknown, they are sometimes attributed to disorientation, disease, thermal shock or physical collision,” said Dr. Alex Hearn, Turtle Island’s Conservation Science Director. 

Turtle Island is part of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, a team of researchers who have been following whale shark migrations since 2011. Large, apparently pregnant females appear at Darwin Island in the northern part of Galapagos from July through October each year, and migrate to mainland Ecuador and northern Peru by December, where they are thought to remain feeding for several months.

Follow our research here on our blog.

Read the original report in Spanish in El Universo.