KOTA KINABALU: A whale shark died after getting trapped in fishing nets in waters off Kota Belud, as villagers and nearby resort workers frantically called in vain for help from authorities.
The seven-metre whale shark died close to the shore of Kg Tituru Laut about 90km from the state capital here.
Fishermen from the fishing village towed the whale shark to shore with the help of four boats, before using a tractor to take it to a burial site about a kilometre away.
Manana Borneo Resort operator Sofian Abdul Aziz said that the whale shark was discovered around 8.30am on Sunday and could have died soon after.
"We tried to get help from the Fisheries Department, but they did not come," he said, adding that he had to call State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun for help instead.
The Wildlife Rescue Unit under the Ministry arrived on Tuesday, but the carcass had already been buried by villagers as it was beginning to decay.
According to Sofian, whale sharks are a common sight in the area between Feb and May.
He did not discount the possibility that the whale shark might have been dying and was heading towards the shore.
"Fishermen told us that it was still alive in the nets but it appeared lifeless after a while," he added.