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December 18, 2018

Researchers seek cause of whale shark's death in Kwale

Game wardens at the scene where the whale shark was found dead on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Diani on October 10, 2018./CHARI SUCHE
Game wardens at the scene where the whale shark was found dead on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Diani on October 10, 2018./CHARI SUCHE

Researchers are investigating the death of a male whale shark found on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Diani, Kwale, on Wednesday.

The 3.6m whale shark was found stranded near the shore and it later died.

Lilian Ndauri from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute said the whale shark might have swum to the reef which is shallow after being pushed by strong waves.

"This situation can only happen if the animal is hurt and couldn't swim in deep water or if it ate something poisonous. We are yet to establish the cause of its death," she said.

Ndauri said the whale shark may have consumed microplastics in the ocean.

"We will take DNA samples and do research," she said.

The whale shark was taken to Shimba Hills Forest for examination, and will later be stored in a museum.

KEMRI's Peter Musembi said the whale shark has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

The incident happened a month time after a sperm whale was found dead on the shore of the Indian Ocean along Zote beach in Kwale.

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