Spon­sors sought for whale shark pro­gram

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham

Ex­mouth re­search group Eco­cean is look­ing for lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and schools to par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Whale Shark Race Around the World pro­gram.

With an aim to en­gage the next gen­er­a­tions of sci­en­tists, the pro­gram al­lows schools to spon­sor a tagged whale shark so students can track, fol­low and learn about their shark’s move­ments on­line.

Kar­ratha Se­nior High School, Bayn­ton West Pri­mary School, Tam­brey Pri­mary School and Ex­mouth Dis­trict High School are among the 16 schools from across the State par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s race.

Eco­cean re­searcher Sa­man­tha Reynolds said they had started tag­ging whale sharks and they would be up for spon­sor­ship soon.

“Once the sharks are tagged, we’ll start col­lect­ing the data from the satel­lite tags and the race of­fi­cially starts on t Au­gust 14 dur­ing Na­tional Sci­ence Week,” she said, “Then we’ll start up­load­ing the data that we’ve been get­ting on to the web­site so any­one can see it and the schools can fol­low their sharks.”

Eco­cean has run the pro­gram since 2015 and Ms Reynolds said re­searchers were start­ing to see sharks re­turn­ing to the Nin­ga­loo coast.

“We’re find­ing that a lot with the sharks that we’ve tagged from Nin­ga­loo, they seem to pre­fer the coastal wa­ters and we’ve tracked quite a few of them re­turn­ing to Nin­ga­loo out­side the whale shark sea­son,” she said.

One Eco­cean-tagged whale shark, named Jainee, has been spot­ted many times along the Nin­ga­loo coast.

Jainee was first spot­ted in the reef in 2010 and was tagged in 2013, 2015 and again this year, so she will be a part of the race.

“This is re­ally in­ter­est­ing as we will be able to com­pare her move­ments over the three dif­fer­ent years she was tagged,” Ms Reynolds said.

Whale shark tags are still up for spon­sor­ship.

Visit eco­cean.com.au.

Pic­ture: Louise Alling­ham

Eco­cean re­searchers have tagged whale sharks for schools to fol­low.

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