Saturday, March 5, 2011

The quiet season….

The months between the end of the Djibouti whale shark season and the start of the Seychelles whale shark season are often thought of as the quiet months but in reality they are some of our busiest in terms of getting on with all the other work of MCSS.

Abi doing what she loves best, photographing whale sharks, photo Hussain al Qallaf

The analysis of the Djibouti data is on-going with team-leader Abi March stoically working through the many hundreds of encounters and thousands of images; She has completed the first two weeks of the expedition now and our total of sharks identified is 99 individuals with 56 being resightings from previous seasons compared to 43 new sharks. In terms of the ratios of males to females they remain pretty constant with 82% males to 18% females. David also has his work cut-out now as the first of the mini-PATs has now popped-up so he has lots of data to analyse…

Volunteer intern Tomoko getting to grips with the CTD

The deadline for application for the 2011 Seychelles Whale Shark Internship Programme is fast approaching (March 31st) so if you have 10 weeks to spare that you would like to spend working on these great animals you should DOWNLOAD the information file and fill in the APPLICATION FORM QUICKLY!

In other news, the project on monitoring sharks and marine life in the Bay Ternay Marine National Park is now well underway with the array of VR2 acoustic transmitters in place across the Conception Channel and Bay Ternay Marine National Park, thanks largely to the hard work of the volunteer Dive Master Trainees from the Underwater Centre and the staff of the Seychelles Fishing authority. In all 37 stations will be operating to track the movements of fish and other marine species around this area.

The Bay Ternay / Conception Channel Acoustic Array

A workshop was held in February to give staff involved with the project training in the skills for the insertion of acoustic tags into the body cavity of the fish, to minimise risk of injury to the animals and promote long-term tag retention.
Volunteer team leader Ciara and project Coordinator Georgia learn how to suture a shark after tagging

The first capture sessions were conducted over the last week or so with two groupers being the first individuals to be tagged with acoustic tags and released back into the array. So far the small reef sharks have proven illusive be we hope to rectify this in the coming weeks!