Fishermen in West Bali have found themselves in a game of catch and release with some blacktip reef sharks.
In Bali’s Jembrana regency, fishermen reportedly released seven blacktip reef sharks that had been trapped in fishing nets—but only released months later, apparently after they had gotten stronger.
“The sharks were accidentally trapped by fishermen, and we took care of them for few months. After they grew stronger, we released them back to the sea,” local resident and environmentalist, Yoki Sinugroho said, as quoted by Antara Bali.
Sinugroho, working with a conservancy group, says he called on the fishermen to rehabilitate the sharks, instead of selling them off for their fins.
“We have seen some endangered species, including these sharks, sold at a cheap price. It would be better if we bought them, took care of them, and released them to the sea,” he added.
Though blacktip reef sharks are technically not endangered, they have been categorized as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
When first captured, the sharks were just 30-40 centimeters in length. Now they are about 80 centimeters and are more fit to survive, according to Sinugroho.
Though blacktips are typically classified as ‘timid’ towards humans, the presence of food can cause them to be aggressive and attacks on humans have happened.
West Bali officials have shown concern about the presence of sharks in Gilimanuk, because of the area’s popularity amongst snorkelers and divers, insisting in the past that the sharks be relocated to less tourist-populated waters.