Whale Shark Ecology
Arabian Gulf & Gulf of Oman
The main objective of the project is to investigate the ecology of whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman by fieldwork and a satellite tagging initiative with a view to providing information about the species so that protection within the region may be considered.
Why this is important:
It is only in the last few years as the local diving industry has developed that there has been a significant increase in the number of recorded sightings from the area, suggesting that the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf may be of greater importance to whale sharks than previously thought.
The plight of whale sharks in this region was brought to international attention in the 2009 Arabian Seas Whale Shark Symposium.
The ecology research project then began in June 2010 and includes fieldwork for data collection and a regional ID database for whale sharks (www.sharkwatcharabia.com). The database and website were launched as a tool to collect information on shark abundance and movements in the region.
The information collected in the Sharkwatch Arabia database will be utilised in the overall ecology research study. Sightings are recorded from throughout the whole GCC region. One of the social aims of the project is to directly involve the local community by turning divers and sea-going individuals into researchers.
Aims and Objectives
Aims are to:
- Establish a regional whale shark identification database.
- Understand the distribution and movements of whale sharks and why they occur.
- Form an estimate of whale shark abundance and demography.
- Discover how environmental and bio-physical factors influence distribution.
- Assess the impact of human activity on the whale shark in the region.
Objectives are to:
- Collect and process images and information collected in the field and/or sent to Sharkwatch Arabia from the local diving community to build a regional identification database.
- Examine whale shark movements throughout the region and beyond with the use of satellite telemetry.
- Combine the use of community based data collection and fieldwork to build up a picture over time of the seasonal abundance and demography of whale sharks.
- Identify annual patterns in plankton parameters (density, size structure, biomass, taxonomic group), to characterize the oceanographic features where animals are found and to utilize the use of remote satellite imagery in an attempt to understand whale shark occurrence and distribution.
- Investigate fisheries data, strandings and occurrence in ports and marinas throughout the region with a view to explaining why such events occur.
The winter has now well and truly set in with near shore water temps dropping below 20ºC. January is always a quiet month for whale shark activity, however, saying that there have been sharks spotted in the Musandam region of…
Reflecting back, 2012 it has been an amazing year for the Arabian whale shark ecology project. So much has been achieved and discovered and I am now looking forward to an equally productive 2013. December has been relatively quiet for…
November has been a very quiet month in terms of whale shark sightings. There have been no reports from the Maersk platform workers who are our eyes and ears in the field. There have also been only two divers who…
3rd September 2011 was the date that saw the last whale shark spotted in Qatari waters for last year’s season. In the 2012 season, the sharks have so far been hanging around for much longer, with sizeable aggregations throughout September.…
The whale sharks are not doing what they are supposed to! Last year they disappeared on September 3rd and so we marked this as the end of the season and organised our fieldwork around this date. This year, we are…