Renewed hope at Ningaloo
Help Earthwatch protect the oceans’ largest fish
Whale shark numbers at Ningaloo Reef are increasing according to the latest research from Ecocean and Earthwatch. These positive results overturn previous findings and suggest that well-managed marine ecotourism may be an ecologically and economically viable alternative to hunting. Well-managed whale shark tourism across Asia can also promote greater public awareness of marine conservation issues.
Around the world, data from Ningaloo has been used to help end the ‘official’ whale shark fishery. In the 1990s Taiwan caught more 250 whale sharks per annum and India more than 1,000. Both countries have since banned whale shark hunting. Unfortunately while no country in the world officially sanctions the hunting of whale sharks, unregulated poaching continues to threaten the species with extinction.
Despite their immense size – growing to more than 12 metres – very little is known about the breeding habits and ecology of the whale shark. Prior to the mid-1980s there had been less than 350 sightings worldwide and to this day only one pregnant female has ever been recorded. Further research will allow us to identify areas of ecological significance for whale sharks (such as breeding grounds) and will help to develop conservation management plans.
Earthwatch urgently needs your help to continue its support for whale shark research – our aim is to raise $50,000 by June 2008. If you would like to support this project please contact Earthwatch on 03 9682 6828.