Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dispatches from Djibouti #2: Shiraz comes to visit!

Shiraz, the first whale shark tagged with a satellite tag in Djibouti in 2006, came in to visit the team again this season. His first visit this year went pretty much unnoticed in the flurry of sharks recorded on the second day, and was only really unearthed during the photo ID matching later in the week showed that dji.2006.015 had in fact been seen by one of the teams in the afternoon off the shooting range at Arta, not far from where he had been tagged in 2006...

Shiraz with his satellite tag attached in 2006, photo Simon Rogerson

Shiraz was just three metres long in 2006 when he was tagged with a Wildlife Computers Splash tag which was attached by a short tether to his dorsal fin. This tag gave some interesting information on his movements during the following nine days prior to detaching. During this time he made dives in excess of 175 metres and transited across the Gulf of Tadjourah three times from Arta on the Southern shore to Addali and Dat Houdoum on the North.

On our encounters with him in 2006 he exhibited a well-healed but pronounced scarring pattern on his left side, either from an encounter with a larger toothy shark or from a boat strike; this year it was the presence of a large but now quite subtle scar on the left side that announced his visit for the second time on the 12th of January.
We had also seen Shiraz during the January 2009 expedition and it appears that this area is indeed one of his favourite feeding grounds. This year he was happy to pose for the team and Hussain Alqalaf from the Kuwait group of the Arabian Whale Shark Programme was able to capture these fine images of him.

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