Recently, a group of fishermen in Malaysia had a pretty magical encounter with a rare marine creature, the whale shark.
Looking for help
In a Facebook video posted by the Malaysia Animal Association on Dec. 1, 2019, the large shark was apparently spotted in waters off Bintulu, Sarawak.
The caption stated that the whale shark had swam up to the boat and stayed at its side for a while, almost as if in a plea for help.
The reason for this surreal situation became apparent when the fishermen realised that it had a thick rope slung around its mid-section, in a clear case of the aftermath of marine pollution.
In the clip, the fishermen proceed to hook the rope with a long apparatus in order to guide the whale shark closer to the side of the boat.
From there, another man reaches down to use a chopper and quickly severs the rope, before pulling it out of the water.
Upon achieving freedom, the whale shark happily swims away to a chorus of "Bye-bye!" from the fishermen.
It thrashes its tail enthusiastically, and even flips to side to stick a flipper above the water.
The fishermen can be heard exclaiming: "Wa, happy ah, happy!"
Here's the full video.
Whale sharks threatened in Malaysia
Although whale sharks are pretty rare, these underwater giants have been sighted before.
Divers were approached by two juvenile whale sharks near Pulau Landakan off Sandakan in August this year.
According to New Straits Times, there have been seven reported sightings of these majestic animals this year.
In Malaysia, whale sharks are listed as "threatened" under the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999.
These sharks can grow to quite a size, with adults averaging around 10m in length.
Humans swimming or diving have no need to fear these large creatures, as they feed on plankton by filtering water through their mouth and are known to be quite docile.
Aside from hunting and marine pollution, whale sharks are threatened by climate change, where the warming temperatures potentially alter the population of plankton, their food source.
Top photo from Malaysia Animal Association / FB