Saturday, October 1, 2016

Monitoring Updates

Seychelles whale shark programme update 
The Seychelles whale shark monitoring programme has not run since 2014 due to the very low numbers of sharks being encountered thus not generating enough funding to support the activities. Opportunistic sightings are being recorded and currently we have 8 sightings noted so far this season although no aerial surveys have been carried out due to financial constraints. 
One of the Bay Ternay visitors!
Of these we have been able to get photo ID images from North Island and GVI for three sharks one of which, from North Island, was a shark previously known from 2012 (sey.2012.011) and the other two from Bay Ternay were both new individuals, the most recent being on the 19th of September.

Djibouti Monitoring Programme Update

The two week Djibouti monitoring programme was run again this January with support from Dolphin Excursions  aboard the MV Deli for four team members. For the last two years the team has comprised the Chairman Dr. David Rowat, staff member Savinien Leblond, volunteer whale shark team leader Freya Womersley and the volunteer divemaster that runs the whale shark project with Dolphin Excursions in Djibouti, this year it was Christy. For some time we have known that the whale sharks leave Djibouti in late January and so it was unfortunate that this year they left around three weeks early and so very few sharks were encountered. We managed to achieve 16 encounters with 6 individual sharks over the two weeks. 
One of our magnificent six!!
Luckily in the previous two months Christy had recorded 86 encounters with 33 individuals of which 26 were previously identified sharks and only 7 were new sharks, a record resighting rate of 79%! The oldest resighting was of a shark first recorded in 2006. 

During this season we did host a CNN film crew who managed to get in the water with one shark and were able to produce a short documentary which has been aired several times. 

Surface feeding shark
Accordingly the next Djibouti expedition has been scheduled for December (Dec 3-9, 10-16) to ensure we are present at the peak again. This coming season we will be collaborating with the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Saudi Arabia as well as supporting a PhD student from the University of Insubria, Italy and taking water samples for bio-genetic studies at University of Copenhagen.

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