Publié le August 31, 2020

In search of whale sharks with MEGAPTERA

 

2016 whale shark mission

Crédit: Jeremy BISHOP – Unsplash

The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, but it is also one of the most obscure. It is harmless to humans, but today, it is threatened with extinction. From November and throughout the winter months, whale sharks gather specifically along the coast of Djibouti in Africa, where there are large concentrations of plankton. For scientists, this is a privileged moment to study these animals close up.

This is the case with the French association MEGAPTERA that is dedicated to the observation, understanding and protection of marine mammals and whale sharks.

MEGAPTERA and its partner TERIA have spent the last 15 years conducting research, education and conservation activities on this species.

 

Satellite tags have been placed on these sharks during field expeditions and they have been photographed. Scientists have then examined the valuable data collected to gain a better understanding of the movements and lifestyle of these sharks. The results of these studies will help both local and international players to adopt the right measures to preserve this endangered species! For example, Marine Protected Areas could be one of the solutions to protect these sharks and enable economic activities to develop in a way that is both sustainable and compatible with the marine environment.

Highlights of two expeditions with MEGAPTERA and Nausicaá

 

Crédit: Husain AL QALLAF – Megaptera

In 2016 and 2017, Nausicaá had the opportunity to take part in two missions organized by MEGAPTERA to study whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjourah in Djibouti. Ludwig Coulier, a carer at Nausicaá, was involved in fitting several satellite tags that transmitted for several months. Location, depth, temperature, luminosity, etc… The tags record many parameters that can be studied by scientists to analyse the behaviour and movements of whale sharks.

 

 

 

 

 

Read about Whale shark mission 2020

 

The mission organized in 2017 enabled 3 satellite tags to be deployed and 12 whale sharks were photo-identified. Initial analyses suggest that whale sharks from the Gulf of Tadjourah can migrate to the Indian Ocean and meet up with populations from Kenya or even the Maldives or Seychelles.

Research on these sharks is a long-term task. Therefore, MEGAPTERA is planning to repeat these missions to continue learning more about whale sharks and to improve their preservation.

The next mission will take place in January 2020, with the support of Copromer Transports – Delanchy Group, which is financing a tag, as well as with Nausicaá and its Endowment fund, and TERIA, which are financing three tags, together with the equipment required to deploy all four tags.

 

 

To make a donation to support this initiative, please go to Nausicaá Endowment Fund online donation form.

 

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