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Incredible Footage Shows Family Saving Whale Shark Tangled In Rope

“That’s a good example of [how] the things that we discard can destroy beautiful animals like that so easily.”

Joby Rohrer and his family were enjoying a day of diving off the coast of Lanai, Hawaii when they spotted something that made them change their plans. There, in the water not far from them, was a massive whale shark. Wrapped around her was a large rope, strangling her body.

The family thought for a long time before deciding to take action. Ultimately, they felt it was a question of responsibility.

Joby said:

“I’m thinking there’s no way I’m gonna get through that rope — it’s so fat. Then [my wife] Kapua was saying, ‘Well, you should try!’ But I was thinking if I get close to that animal and touch it, I don’t want to startle the animal. I don’t want to stress the animal out. I don’t want to make it bolt.”

With scars around its body where the rope had clearly been cutting into its skin, Joby and wife Kapua Kawelo – who work on protecting endangered species for the O’ahu Army Natural Resources Program – felt they had no choice but to step in.

Kapua shared:

“We waited a long time to consider what our responsibility was … We know that people don’t necessarily encourage this type of thing, but both of us are biologist. We felt like we were sort of in tune with what the animal was doing and maybe we were meant to be there.”

Joby swam down to the whale shark, which was in 30 to 40 feet of water, with a 4-inch dive knife. With the help of their son and a wildlife control manager for Pulama Lana’i, they managed to cut the rope away through several dives and without any breathing equipment.

The 150-pound rope, a piece of improperly discarded fishing equipment, was literally cutting into the gentle giant and Joby’s heroic actions had saved the whale shark’s life.

He said:

“That’s a good example of [how] the things that we discard can destroy beautiful animals like that so easily.”

Watch the video here:

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