Americans might not have even heard of the baby whale shark, but it exists. The aquatic animal was recently found in a swimming pool at a resort. How it got there is a long story.
Joy turns to concern
As Grind TV explained, the little guy was found swimming in the sea in the Maldives just last week. The discovery was momentous because it could be an indicator that the animal's breeding habits have changed, as they typically aren't around the area this time of year.
But the celebrations quickly turned to shock once a photo surfaced of the whale shark in a resort's salt system pool. The photo, which is currently displayed on GrindTV, shows a woman swimming in the water with it. Before the gasps ensue, it's important to note that the mammals are harmless to humans.
Baby whale sharks endangered
They predominantly feed on plankton, but they can get mighty big. According to National Geographic, babies can grow to be about 40 feet long.
The shock factor relates to the fact that the creatures are at high risk of becoming extinct, explained the source. Marine conservationist Brad Norman told the publication that locating birthing grounds could be the key to preserving the species.
This story does have a happy ending, despite its worrisome moment. Haveeru Online, a local paper in the Maldive region, reported that the baby whale shark was indeed returned to the open seas. The release was very slow and friendly, Hassan Nizad, one of the people who found the shark in the ocean, told the publication.
Can it happen to anyone?
Of course, Americans need not worry if they'll come home to find a whale shark, or any breed for that matter, in their backyards. The particular mammal is native to the Republic of the Maldives, which is in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The distance alone is unrealistic, not to mention, this isolated incident occurred from an alleged baby whale shark "kidnapping," rather than by nature.
It's more likely that a person will run into a smaller animal in their residential pools, like a raccoon or a snake, rather than a shark of any sort. Although many animals, including aquatic ones, can survive in the water, it's never a good idea to put them in a pool – even in salt system waters, which have the feel of the ocean.