August has seen steady whale shark sightings in Oman, yet the sharks disappeared from Qatar for nearly a whole month! They did return however towards the end of August when we were able to spot one of our regular visitors affectionately known as ‘Lumpy Head’.
Lumpy head was first observed in June of this year and has suffered a severe impact trauma at some point in her life causing her head to be in a constantly raised position and loss of her dorsal fin. She is a 4m female and we have observed her at several aggregations feeding happily.
Another loveable character that I blogged about last year is ‘Scarface’ we first observed him briefly in July 2011 but we were so happy to see him again this year looking healthy and we got some amazing comparative photographs of the injury and how well it is healing.
We also noted a couple of sharks this year with rope attached to their tails in what seems like a fishing attempt. This is almost certainly not happening locally and we hope to expand on this as our satellite tags pop off later in this year and we can see where the sharks travel to in the winter months.
We are not yet sure if these traumas are happening locally or beyond but to date, not many fresh scars have been seen. To identify anthropogenic and natural threats to the whale sharks of Qatar is part of our aims. The cover image is of a whale shark with a distinct shark bite out of its fin, I am hoping this didn’t happen locally!
Our research trips were very limited in August due to the extreme temperatures and logistics this brings along with it. The oil platform workers did keep their eyes open though and reported sharks whenever they saw them. Although the sharks returned towards the end of August, the numbers of sharks were less than July and decreased towards the end of August, which follows the same pattern as last year.