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The littlest one that got away...

ACTIVISTS in the Philippines have rescued what they believe might be the smallest offspring of the world's biggest fish - a whale shark the size of a forearm, a conservation group said yesterday.

The World Wide Fund for Nature said maritime officials and activists in Pilar town in the eastern Philippines rescued the 38-centimeter whale shark last week and released it in deep waters. Its tail had been tied to a small rope on a beach.

The group called it "arguably the smallest living whale shark in recorded history."

WWF said the discovery was the first indication the coastline may be their birthing ground. The group has encountered very few baby whale sharks and can only compare the size of its new discovery to embryos found in a dead female in 1996 - which measured 37 to 48 centimeters - according to Elson Aca, project manager for the WWF whale shark tracking project.

The gentle creature, which can grow to be as big as a bus, make regular stops along the Philippines' eastern shores from December to May.


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