Fish of the day: UK photographer snaps whale sharks stealing from nets

Fish of the day: UK photographer snaps whale sharks stealing from netsSolent

He spent five days studying the behaviour of whale sharks in West Papua, Indonesia, and British photographer Steve Jones certainly came away with amazing results.

He captured incredible images of the 20-tonne mammals helping themselves to a 'free' lunch of anchovies from local fishermen's nets - just by opening their huge 1.5-metre mouths and sucking them through the holes.

But rather than see these beautiful creatures - the largest fish in the world - as competition, the fishermen see them as good luck, and they are treated with reverence.

Steve explains: 'Many of the nets are in a poor state of repair and the sharks do not miss the opportunity for a free lunch.

'Yet rather than persecute these sharks for competing with them, the Papuan fishermen embrace their company during their long, lonely stints at sea.'

Steve even explains how one fisherman went underwater at night to cut free a whale shark that had become entangled in a net, without thought of physical danger (an accidental swipe of a tail could be fatal), or financial risk, eventually losing his entire catch.

Instead of being upset, the next morning he was 'proud to have helped an animal that they believe brings luck'.

The photographer, from Oxon, also explains how this group feeding behaviour is not known to be common, telling the Daily Mail: 'The behaviour shown by the whale sharks in the bay is incredibly unusual.

'These sharks are normally solitary, yet we witnessed them in groups of up to nine in one go, carefully avoiding any unwelcome collisions with either each other or us.'

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