A whale of a find in a far-away bay
Watch how scientists managed to get close enough to wild whale sharks to take samples.
Whale sharks are large — larger than any other fish on Earth — and somewhat mysterious, even to scientists. Finding them in the wild is no easy feat because they’re constantly on the move. Getting up close and personal to free-swimming whale sharks is even trickier.
Georgia Aquarium scientists, along with scientists from Conservation International, traveled to Indonesia’s remote Cendrawasih Bay, in the province of West Papua, in search of these creatures, hoping to get close enough for a good look. They struck gold thanks to some local fishers out to catch baitfish — and the whale sharks that grabbed the chance at a free meal.
Watch the video to see amazing footage from the expedition and hear Alistair Dove, Ph.D., vice president of research and conservation at Georgia Aquarium, explain how they managed to conduct the first-ever health assessment of a wild shark population, taking measurements, placing tracking tags and collecting blood and other biological samples.
The data and samples they collected will help conservationists better understand how to protect this endangered species. The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Cendrawasih Bay National Park Authority will be integrating the findings into their local and national policies on whale shark conservation and tourism management.
For more on the expedition, visit http://news.georgiaaquarium.org/stories/first-successful-wild-whale-shark-health-assessments-performed.