The MCSS have been monitoring whale sharks around Seychelles since a pilot project in November 1996. Since that two week pilot project, the programme has grown steadily and with the support of the Save Our Seas Foundation for the last three years, has become one of the most comprehensive whale shark research programmes globally and this year promises to be one of the busiest!
From its inception in 1996, the programme has relied upon the enthusiasm and support of the public in assisting with the gathering of data and this ‘citizen science’ has been the primary building block on which the programme is based. However, in order to maximise the value of the data collected, the monitoring systems require strict standardisation and while the public is directly involved in the in-water encounter activities, the majority of the data are collected by intern volunteers (sometimes called eco-volunteers) who are trained in the necessary data capture activities and data entry to ensure compliance with standards.
The programme is led by whale shark researcher David Rowat in conjunction with the University of London Marine Biological Station Millport and advisors Dr. Rupert Ormond and Dr. Mauvis Gore. This year a team of six interns and two team leaders will be making sure that as much data is collected as possible; also one of their activities will be to keep readers of our blog up to date with the day to day happenings of whale shark research in Seychelles….
Do visit us regularly to see the trials and tribulations of working with the worlds largest shark!