Photo of the Day: Whale shark spotted in S. Taiwan

Rare whale shark sighting thought to be result of decreased human activity amid coronavirus pandemic

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(Chiu Jui-chang video screenshot)

(Chiu Jui-chang video screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Last week, diving enthusiasts captured video of a massive whale shark gliding through the waters off the coast of southern Taiwan, a rare sight that some are attributing to a decrease in human activity as they take cover during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.

At 10:30 am on Wednesday (April 22), a diver identified as Chiu Jui-chang (邱瑞 章) captured video of an encounter with a whale shark off the coast of Kenting in Taiwan's southernmost county of Pingtung, reported Liberty Times. Witnesses at the scene estimated that the shark was about 4 meters in length as they swam with it for approximately three minutes.

On Monday (April 27), Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Men-an (潘孟安) uploaded the video on his Facebook page. In the post, Pan wrote the sighting of the "gentle giant" was a welcome respite from the tension caused by the pandemic and added that if the public worked together on maintaining biodiversity, more pleasant surprises would appear.


(Chiu Jui-chang video screenshot)

That same day Twitter user @mandalabrfoz posted photos of the divers' encounter with the leviathan and observed that as humans reduced their outdoor activities, wild animals have begun to appear in places previously seldom seen. Indeed, a growing number of videos showing a broad range of wild animals appearing on the streets of some of the largest cities in the world have begun to surface on social media.

Notable examples include coyotes in San Francisco, mountain goats in Wales, elephants in India, penguins in South Africa, mountain lions in Colorado, jaguars in Mexico, wild boar in Spain, otters in Singapore, jellyfish in Venice, and deer in Japan. National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium Associate Researcher He Hsuan-ching (何宣慶) was cited by Liberty Times as saying that due to years of overfishing in coastal areas of Taiwan, whale sharks are rarely seen.

He emphasized that in the future, as long as there is strict regulation and maintenance of marine ecology, the return of whale sharks could bring considerable benefits as a potential source of ecotourism.


(Chiu Jui-chang video screenshot)