Fishermen save endangered whale shark trapped in trawler's net

This is the frantic moment a stricken whale shark was released after getting trapped in a fishing trawler's net.

Chaturong Yotchai and his colleagues anchored their vessel off the coast of Satun province, southern Thailand on Wednesday (August 21).

They were heading back to the shore and started hauling the huge net from the water when one of the team members felt the unusual weight of their catch.

The team was half-way pulling up the fishing net when they found the huge whale shark tangled in the mesh struggling to escape.

Footage from the early morning shows how a group of seamen jumped into the water, using all their strength to push the net down and release the shark from the tight ropes.

The whale shark, estimated to be 5,500 pounds, was freed and returned to the ocean twenty minutes later. The fishermen were heard cheering and saying farewell to the animal after the rescue.

Chaturong said that this was the second time he and his team had encountered whale sharks inside their trawlers.

The fisherman said: ''The first time we found a trapped whale shark was about four years ago but it was not as big as this one.

''One of us felt that the net was too much heavier than it normally is. We thought that we might have caught a big pile of sea garbage but it was the large whale shark.

''The shark was very still as if he knows that we're trying to help him. We're happy that the shark wasn't hurt and swam away with lots of energy.''

Whale sharks are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to the over-fishing and vessel strikes.