Discovering Where & How Endangered Whale Sharks Mate

Latest update February 7, 2019 Started on February 7, 2019
sea

Scientists believe that St Helena could be the only place in the world where mature whale sharks aggregate to breed. We hope to capture this on film and incorporate this data into future management decisions within the island's vast MPA.

February 7, 2019
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Expedition Background

For years scientists have wondered where and how the endangered whale shark (Rhincodon typus) breeds.


There have only ever been anecdotal accounts of this behaviour from around the world and most aggregations sites are usually visited by juveniles or unequal ratios of males to females.

St Helena represents a unique opportunity to study a population of whale sharks which is comprised equally of mature males and females.

Since February 2018, we have been working with our research partners, Georgia Aquarium, Ocean Conservancy and The St Helena Government's Marine Section, we are working closely with local fishermen and tour operators to ascertain potential mating grounds.

We are using an innovative combination of technology including: ultrasounds of free-ranging whale sharks, ROVs to explore aggregation sites too deep for SCUBA divers, aerial drones to survey further offshore than ever before and deep-hardened satellite tags to survey deeper than ever before.

We are also developing the island's first 360 VR underwater films to disseminate our research and to foster a greater connection to the ocean within the local community.

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