By Federico Cornetto & Joe McFarlane
A brave team of divers performed an incredible rescue of a whale shark that had become caught in a piece of rope.
In December 2019, divers from Macana Maldives tour agency, Simone Musumeci and Antonio Di Franca were taking some clients on a guided dive in the island of Fuvahmulah, Maldives, when they spotted something extraordinary.
A huge whale shark was cruising the water around their boat with a thick rope tied around its body, between its head and its pectoral fins.
Simone said: “While the divers were slowly getting back on the boat, our guide Gianluca, who was on board, shouted ‘whale shark!’.
“I immediately put my breathing mask back on and looked under the water.
“I saw a majestic animal swimming towards us with a huge rope around its neck.”
Simone and Antonio immediately jumped into the water and began to try and cut off the rope, while the gigantic fish kept swimming and dragged them across the ocean.
Once the rope came off, a deep white mark that had been dug by it became visible around the shark’s body.
Simone said: “It took us about ten minutes to free the shark, while it dragged us around as we were holding to the rope, to a depth of around fourteen metres.
“When the rope finally came off, the animal stood still for a moment, as if it realised it was free, then it slowly swam downwards into the depths of the sea.
“A few moments later it appeared again, and swam closer to us like it wanted to thank us.
“It was one of the most beautiful experiences of our lives and we will never forget it.”
Marketing and communications director at Macana Maldives, Donatella Moica, 50, said: “We wouldn’t be able to find out how the shark got caught in the rope.
“Whalesharks travel great distances and it could have happened somewhere far from the Maldives.
“It surely had been dragging the rope for a while considering the marks around its body.”