Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mad Friday!

Week One in Djibouti came to a rather spectacular finish when David’s PhD student Ginevra and her team found an aggregation of five whale sharks which was staying below the surface and had been unnoticed for several hours…
Two of the sharks with Ginevra and her team, photo Luigi de Bacco
Unfortunately Friday is the weekend holiday in Djibouti and so the whale shark area is visited by numerous boats with excited tourists hoping to swim with a whale shark. There were already fourteen of these tourist skiffs searching the area so we knew we had to work fast to get the photo ID shots of these sharks.
Freya in action capturing the ID shots, photo Luigi de Bacco
Guest Jan captures a multi-level whale shark cross-over, photo Luigi de Bacco
So our little team joined Ginevra’s group to get to work. Freya working hard with her Go Pro to get the ID shots, Savi glued to the laser rig to get accurate size images and David mopping up any sharks trying to escape without having their photos taken. MCSS guest Jan was also there with his big SLR camera trying to get images of the whole thing.
Savi in action with the laser measurement rig, photo Luigi de Bacco
Within a few minutes the tourist skiffs had noticed the unusual activity in the corner of the bay and had descended so things started to get very busy very quickly! While our team were somewhat perplexed by the situation with probably more than 20 people in the water; however, the sharks were totally cool about the whole thing and carried on feeding hardly skipping a slurp and deftly swimming between their awkward and eager visitors! Our thanks to Luigi de Bacco, one of the guests aboard the Elegante, Ginevra’s base of operations, for the images in this post.
What on earth is that? Savi, Freya and a shark wonder what has just appeared, photo Luigi de Bacco
So week one ended on a high with a total of 219 encounters recorded, we only have the IDs processed from the first few sessions but already we have 14 individuals sharks photo identified with 7 new sharks and 7 repeat visitors one each from 2009, 2010 and 2014 with four from 2013.

Roll on week two!

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