Saturday, June 6, 2009

Returning Visitors

Well the calm ‘change-over’ period seems to have passed now and Seychelles is once again being cooled by the South Easterly winds. There have already been several opportunistic whale shark sightings but things had gone a little quiet for the last week.

Well on Wednesday that all changed when a group of visiting divers from the Canadian Navy ship Winnipeg got to see not one but two sharks on their dive and snorkel trip…

The ship was in Port Victoria for a few days R&R in Seychelles and Louis Beaubet had been had organised three days of diving and snorkelling activities for his crewmates with the Underwater Centre / Dive Seychelles and so everyone was excited to get out on the first dive.

And they were right to be excited as on the way out to Grouper Point a whale shark was spotted swimming lazily on the surface... a great way to start their visit in Seychelles!
Louis had a camera was keen to get some photos for the Photo ID project and so was quickly into the water to meet this big spotty shark....

Seychelles shark (UT06-098A) pays us a return visit; photo Louis Beaubet

After a while the shark moved off to continue his search for plankton and so Louis and the delighted team carried on for their dive. A great dive was had by one and all and just to add the icing on the cake another whale shark was seen as they were heading back... it didn't matter if it was the same one, everyone was keen to get in with it anyway and the dive crew were sure it was a different one…. so Louis had to get the photo IDs just in case it was!

Louis Beaubet's second whale shark of the day, a 2007 shark (UT07-047rt)

Once back at the Centre the staff called MCSS and soon the images were with them for analysis and Katie was keen to see if there were one or two sharks and if they were new or returning visitors….

Sure enough there were indeed two sharks and both had been seen previously: one on the 11th and 21st of October 2006 and the other was seen only once on the 15th of October 2007; both sharks were juvenile males of around 4 metres in length.

So welcome back to our two young visitors, its nice to see you both again and things are looking good for the coming season!

Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve Set-up In Mexico

Good news comes from Paco Remolino Suarez from the Domino project in Mexico that a huge area around Yum Bulam and Holbox has just been declared a biosphere reserve for whale sharks. The zone extends the previous protected area of Yum Bulam Marine Park to cover an additional one hundred forty and five thousand nine hundred eighty and eight hectares.

The state order recognises that the area is also an important area for the reproduction of spiny lobster as well as being an important zone for several species of marine turtles, including hawksbill, green, logger head and leatherback turtles, as well as over 234 species of reef fish. In view of the global importance of the area for whale sharks, it was argued that the area needed to be protected at a biosphere level.

This declaration will affect what activities are carried out here, prohibiting any activities that might pollute the environment or affect marine life; however, the tourism activities such as those centred around whale shark watching will be allowed to continue subject to regulations that will now have to meet the Environmental Laws that govern the establishment of a Biosphere reserve.

We look forward to hearing more from Paco over the coming months…