STAFF REPORT IBD: UNESCO with its partner Pakistan Science Foundation has recently inaugurated one of the largest found whale shark specimens at the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH).
The specimen, believed to be unique due to its size in the world, is 40-foot large, weighs 16 tons and is the biggest specimen of fish ever recorded in the history.
According to details, this specimen of Whale Shark (rhincodontypus) was seen alive but motionless on February 6, 2012 in the Gora Bari area in Pakistani territory of Arabian Sea by the local fishermen. It was brought to Karachi Fish Harbour the next day, which was dead by then.
Later, the PMNH took possession of the fish from the Karachi Fish Harbour Authority and the Marine Fisheries Department and transported to Islamabad for preservation and research.
The PMNH took about six months to complete the shark specimen stuffing process and has recently been inaugurated.
?We are very grateful to UNESCO for providing PSF technical and financial support in promoting the culture of science, scientific knowledge and science popularization,? said Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro, Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation while elaborating the importance of the fish.
He said that museums play an important role for popularization of science education, and he believes that the PMNH is doing a wonderful job for educating people in Pakistan.
He also stressed the need for promotion of science and technology as it plays a vital role in scientific, technological, agriculture and socio economic development of the country.
In this connection, the PSF chairman said that science expos competitions should be arranged in educational institutions on a regular basis.
In his remarks, Dr Kozue Kay Nagata, the representative of UNESCO, congratulated the PSF and the PMNH on the successful completion of the preservation process of the whale specimen.
She stressed the idea of sharing scientific knowledge, which would be an important milestone for educated minds of next generation
It is to be mentioned here that UNESCO is supporting the PMNH to increase the experience and knowledge of visitors.
The specimen is now open for public display in Pakistan Museum of Natural History.
According to an official of the PMNH, the specimen is an asset for the museum as they would extensively study it which would be beneficial for the researchers as well as visitors.
Whale Shark is declared vulnerable specie by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its population is said to be decreasing at an alarming rate.
The specimen at display was of age 50, when found. Despite its huge size, this whale shark is harmless to humans and only feeds on plankton, krill, fish eggs and crabs.
The whale shark preferring warm waters populate all tropical seas. They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia. The coral spawning of the area?s Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton.
Although massive, whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride. They are currently listed as a vulnerable species; however, they continue to be hunted in parts of Asia, such as the Philippines.
WWF?s global website states that the fish is ?highly valued? on the international market because of the meat, fins and oil. In Pakistan, whale shark meat is used to produce fish meal while the liver oil is smeared on the hull of boats to make them more resistant to the rough seas.
According to food experts, the fish meat is not meant for human use as food but its liver oil and fats can be used for many benefits. It is also used in making medicines that are used to treat many human diseases, and other usages.