Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another late season surprise!

We recently received a series of whale shark photos taken by Frank Steinberg back in April of this year when on a diving expedition to Aldabra and the Southern Islands of Seychelles.

While it is always nice to receive photos of whale sharks from visitors, the fact that they were taken off Astove island some 800 miles south of Mahe makes them all the more interesting. Also, the outer islands of Seychelles seldom record whale sharks even though our tracking studies do indicate that whale sharks from Mahe do make the journey South West towards Mozambique.

Frank Steinberg's photos of the whale shark swimming over the edge of the Astove wall with two large mottled remoras clinging to its back

Frank’s shark was around 4-5 metres in length with a bite out of the trailing edge of the left pectoral fin. It was accompanied by two very large remoras that were firmly fixed to its back… like the sighting of the shark these were unusual as they were the large mottled brown Remora remora species rather than the slender striped Echeneis naucrates which are the common remoras found on whale sharks around Mahe.

Frank was also able to get underneath the shark as it swam along the top of the famous Astove wall and got a few shots from below which confirm that the shark was a female, also unusual as most sharks found around Mahe are males (see the side bar for this seasons statistics).

The photo series yielded both left and right identity shots which Katie Brooks eagerly fingerprinted through the I3S photo ID programme and then ran against the Mahe whale shark database…. and it’s another new shark! We are now waiting for the arrival of Simon Pierce’s database from
Mozambique to see if this has been seen in his area at all.

We wonder if there are going to be any further end of season surprises?

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