Whale sharks are known to occur in many locations across the Eastern Pacific (EP) and some of those have developed an economic revenue through tourism, while in other areas whale sharks are harvested by the fishing industry. There is very little information available in this regions. The lack of information about the whale shark populations in EP makes it quite difficult to create conservation actions at the local and regional level. The identification of important aggregations, the understanding of their residency patterns and the connectivity among localities is very important for the successful conservation of these shark. Filling the gaps of the whale sharks at the EP will not be an easy task. Making a network of collaborations using technology and involving people by citizen science can help solve the mysteries of these gentle giants while increasing the awareness of their protection.
In 2016 we begun studying whale shark in Peru, through a collaboration with Ecocéanica Peru, so far we have in our database 137 whale sharks and we placed 5 satellite tags to see their movements. Galapagos also is famous in having pregnant females whale sharks, we collaborate with Galapagos who had in their database 73 whale sharks. In 2017 Hawaii started their study by Hawai’i Uncharted Research Collective, adding 62 whale sharks to the data base. So far no match have been founded between localities. Our goal is to involve more countries and more people in order to learn more about these gentle giants.
There are whale shark mysteries also in the Caribbean side so we supported a tagging program in Utila in Hondura, this in collaboration with Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center and Liquid Robotics and recently we are staring a project in Venezuela by supporting the research center of the sharks from Venezuela.
MORE ABOUT OUR Partners
‘’PEJESAPO’’. A group of community monitoring of whale shark in Bahía de Los Ángeles: This group is comprised of five members from Bahía de Los Ángeles, with Abraham Vazquez at the head. The group has been supported by CONANP since 2004 through Programa de Conservación para el Desarrollo Sostenible (PROCODES, Sustainable Development Conservation Program). Since 2008 they have taken on the management duties of whale sharks inside the Marine Reserve, which includes habitat monitoring (biology and oceanography variables), and promotes the rules for whale shark sighting through the Community Program PROVICOM from CONANP. Also, they collaborate with Whale Shark Mexico estimating abundance and migratory patterns of the species at the Gulf of California.
‘’CHACON’’. A group of community monitoring of whale shark in Nayarit: This group is comprised of members of the community of Nayarit and from the University of Nayarit. The members include Ricardo Murillo, Roberto Mata and Victor Hugo Luja. The group has been supported by CONANP since 2013 through Programa de Conservación para el Desarrollo Sostenible (PROCODES, Sustainable Development Conservation Program). Dení Ramírez has been training and supporting them to develop this program. At present, Gala Esmeralda Pelayo Del Real is a graduate student. They also collaborate with Whale Shark Mexico by estimating the abundance of the species at Nayarit and the identification of whale sharks in the Gulf of California.
ecOceanica: is a non-profit organization registered in Peru. It was founded in 2009 by four biologists with much experience in marine conservation and applied research. Its staff is composed of a multidisciplinary group of professionals including biologists, social communicators, environmental educators, journalists, lawyers and chemical engineers. Since the beginning, ecOceánica has focused its research and conservation efforts in northern Peru. There, it has established a long term conservation program for sea turtles in collaboration with the local fishermen and the community. ecOceánica has integrated scientific research, sustainable management, environmental education and inter-institutional collaboration. Whale Shark Mexico and ecOceanica will start the project: “Evaluate the presence of whale shark Rhincodon typus off Peru”, the purpose of this project is to generate critical baseline information on whale sharks off Peru
Hawai’i Uncharted Research Collective