Monday, November 3, 2008

October 31st, the official end of the 2008 Season but also Halloween….

October the 31st has arrived which marks the official end of the 2008 whale shark monitoring season in Seychelles; official end as this is the point at which we normally stop monitoring but this year has been different in many respect and we are in fact continuing with activities for a further week.

Many of the intern team had already arranged to stay on for a week or two and the low numbers of sharks over the season has made them keen to carry on for as long as possible. Our micro-light pilot Johan has also agreed to extend his visit by a week and so the programme will continue at least until November 7th.

Unfortunately, two of the team had tickets which couldn’t be changed with Tomo Moritomo and James Tutty leaving on the 2nd of November and so it seemed appropriate that the end of season BBQ should be held on the 31st October….. which was also Halloween!

We had never held a Halloween party and were not sure how the interns would react but they were enthusiastic to say the least!

The complete 2008 whale shark monitoring team, although you would hardly recognise them!

Before things really went to the ghouls and vampires Dr. David thanked all of the team for their hard work during the season and presented them with a certificate and an in-water photograph of them during the season designed by Katie Brooks (one of the team leaders). Katie also catalogued the team’s achievements:

Shark statistics

139 in-water encounters with 64 individual whale sharks
28 sharks identified from previous seasons
36 new sharks identified this season
60 sharks sexed (46 male and 14 female)
15 tissue sample biopsies taken

Aerial Survey

88 microlight flights completed
Over 8000 km flown in 175 hours and 33 minutes

Boat Trips

50 boat trips operated with 451 guests
44 hours and 38 mins spent swimming with whale sharks

Luke Riley, the other team leader, showed a short DVD that he had compiled for all the interns which captured their activities and achievements over the previous 10 weeks which will also serve as a memento of their visit to Seychelles and contribution to the monitoring programme.

So with just a week left to go to the final wrap up for 2008, the remaining interns hope that Johan can find a whole bunch of sharks for them to round off the season in style, while Dr. David, Katie and Luke lay plans for 2009!

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