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Divers share disturbing footage of whale sharks trapped inside discarded fishing nets: 'This breaks my heart'

"We need to stop fishing nets discarded like this!"

"We need to stop fishing nets discarded like this!"

Photo Credit: YouTube

Sharks are rarely thought of as helpless, yet this is exactly how divers in Indonesia found a group of whale sharks. 

The sharks' dramatic rescue from last year is detailed in a YouTube video shared by Dylan Anderson (@Dylan_Anderson). 

"When these divers were scuba diving in Indonesia, they unexpectedly came upon five massive whale sharks caught in a fishing net, and there was no way for them to escape themselves," the narrator says in the video of the rescue. 

The narrator further explains that the divers, aware that the nets could suffocate the sharks at any minute, knew they must act fast. They took out their knives and worked to cut the sharks free, making sure not to get entangled in the nets themselves. Eventually, they freed all five sharks. 

"They said they were so happy to save them, and also to be able to walk away from the scary moment alive," the narrator ends the video. 

As dramatic as the video may be, it is unfortunately becoming an ever-common occurrence. While there are many stories of heroes rescuing animals from nets and other debris, these heroes should not be necessary. 

Fishing nets used in commercial fishing, while effective in catching large amounts of fish, also catch many unintended animals, known as bycatch. Not only do animals not meant to be caught get entangled in the nets when they are being actively used, but many get trapped in nets that are lost and abandoned in the ocean. 

While some companies are incentivizing fishermen to not leave their nets behind, or harvesting ghost nets and using them in innovative ways, they will never be able to collect all of them, and those left behind will continue to devastate marine wildlife. 

"This story brings light to how good humanity can be all while shedding light on how unprofessional these fishing company's can be," commented one viewer. 

"This breaks my heart," said another, "how many have not been fortunate. We need to stop fishing nets discarded like this!"

While you may not be able to rescue sharks from nets like these brave divers, you can help by demanding better policies on the use of these nets. You can also use apps like Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide to learn which types of fish are the most sustainable where you are.

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