Incredible footage shows whale shark stealing fish from a net

The world’s largest fish, it turns out, is also a clever thief — and a gluttonous one. Conservation International recently posted a video showing a large whale shark stealing small fish that in a way is being stolen from it by commercial fishermen. The amazing footage, captured off Indonesia’s Cenderawasih Bay, shows how the shark has learned to literally suck fish from small holes in a platform net.

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This practice is not without risks. Whale sharks occasionally swim into the nets and become trapped. Sometimes, but not always, divers will jump in to rescue the docile creatures.

Whale sharks, which inhabit the tropical seas around the world (except the Mediterranean), are pelagic filter-feeders that generally subsist on plankton and small, schooling fish. They measure up to about 40 feet and are popular among scuba divers and snorkelers in some areas.

It’s also commercially fished in some areas and is listed as “Vulnerable” with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

The basking shark, also a filter-feeder, is the world’s second-largest fish and reaches lengths of about 33 feet.

— Hat tip to World Oceans Day

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