3.0. WHALE SHARK RESEARCH © MWSRP. 3.1 WHALE SHARK RESEARCH Outline and Introduction Key Whale Shark Questions Common Research Techniques Other research.

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  • 3.0. WHALE SHARK RESEARCH MWSRP

  • 3.1 WHALE SHARK RESEARCHOutline and Introduction

    Key Whale Shark Questions

    Common Research Techniques

    Other research techniques used around the world

    Getting involved in research MWSRP

  • 3.2 Key WS Questions What are the characteristics of different whale shark populations?

    What are whale sharks critical habitats?

    How related are whale sharks around the world?

    Where are the mature females?

    What is the cultural, economic and ecological value of the whale shark?

    Scubasigns

  • 3.3 Common Research TechniquesBasic Observational Research:

    All research programmes record this information at every whale shark encounter

    Useful when used with other techniques such as Photo-Identification

    MWSRP

  • 3.3. Research Techniques

    Basic ObservationalResearch:

    Physical characteristics e.g.SexLengthDistinguishing features MWSRP Brent Stewart HSWRI

  • 3.2 Research Techniques

    Basic ObservationalResearch: Behaviour of the shark:

    Feeding

    Cruising

    Evasive

    Inquisitive etc

    Brent Stewart HSWRI

  • 3.2 Research Techniques

    Basic Observational Research: Environmental Information e.g.

    Water temperature

    Tide stage/ current strength and direction

    Visibility

    Weather conditions

    Prey sampling

    MWSRP

  • 3.2 Research Techniques

    Photo Identification:Identifying individual whale sharks using photographs of their spot patterns

    Special computer software is used to compare the spot patterns

    Allows researchers to estimate population size, shark growth rates and movements

    MWSRP

  • 3.2 Research Techniques

    Photo Identification

    Interesting Findings

    Currently whale sharks photographed in one region are not being photographed by researchers in other more distant regions

    Suggesting sharks from different regions maybe do not mix a much as first thought

  • Photo Identification

    3.2 Research Techniques

  • Tagging

    Visual tags are simply colourful numbered tags used to ID individual whale sharks

    Telemetry tags are electronic tags that record information about location, depth and temperature

    Tags are attached under the skin of the shark and either release automatically or need to be removed by hand

    3.2 Research TechniquesVisual tag Rachel Graham WCSSatellite pop-up tagRemoving a telemetry tag by hand MWSRP

  • TaggingInteresting Findings

    Whale sharks are highly mobile can make journeys thousands of miles long

    Whale sharks dive continuously spending very little time near the surface

    Sometimes diving as deep as 1600 metres where the temperature is as cold as 3 degrees Celsius.

    3.2 Research Techniques

    Telemetry Charts Brent Stewart HWSRI

  • 3.2 Research Techniques

    Tagging

    MWSRP

  • 3.4 Other Research Techniques

    DNA analysis

    This can tell us how related whale sharks in different areas are to each other and whether sharks from different regions are mixing and mating. This may help find and protect the areas where reproductive behaviour takes place

    Scubasigns

  • 3.4 Other Research Techniques

    Socio-economic surveys can help to assign an economic or cultural value to the whale sharkIf the value of the whale shark is high then there is more reason to implement measures to protect them

    MWSRP

  • Tour operators can make a valuable contribution to research and give their trips an added dimension. They should:

    Get in touch with their nearest whale shark research programme

    Contribute to international whale shark databases online

    3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    Include GPS coordinates where possible MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    Including ID photographs (above) and other observations (scarring, tags etc). MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    MaleFemale MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    As a guide most snorkelers are roughly 2m with fins Kenneth Johnson, Eco Colors

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    Note down position of any obvious scars, markings or tags MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    Note down position, color, condition and number of any tags MWSRP

  • 3.5 Getting Involved in Research

    The following information should be submitted for every whale shark encounter. A form should be used to ensure a standardized approach:Time, date and location

    Photographs of the whale shark

    Sex of the whale shark

    Estimated length of the whale shark in metres

    Distinguishing features

    Tag information

    Any other observations or comments

    Anything else of interest strange behaviour, interactions with other sharks etc Scubasigns

    ***A school group in the Maldives record observational data*Sexing (main) and measuring a whale shark (inset)**Cleaning a plankton net*The spot pattern comparison process*******A survey being conducted in the Maldives*A typical encounter information form.***Left: where to look between the pelvic finsTop right: A male claspers presentBottom Right: A female no claspers****An example of interesting behaviour. A whale shark sucking on a bait-fishing net in Papua, Indonesia. *