Whale shark Expedition with Maldives Whale shark Research Programme
Dives: 2-3 dives per day
Atolls: depending on the season the best atolls for whalesharks
When: throughout the year, Itineraries prepared and specific dive sites carefully chosen depending on the monsoon.
For who: Advanced divers with minimum 30 dives.
What will we be doing?
You will be invited to join in and assist in any of the research work planned. Our mission is to use our exciting new mobile platform to look for whale sharks, mantas, turtles, whales and dolphins, all other species of sharks as well as collecting data on environmental variables in some of the less well travelled regions of the country.
When discussing WSX2019 with the MD of EcoPro Divers Maldives, his mention of discovering where the long whispered ‘secret sites’ for whale sharks are was one of the big deciding factors for us MWSRP people! Apparently we were close but not quite right last year! They are little known and the boats don’t go there often as they are a bit out the way. We have since been provided with photo evidence of sharks we knew from South Ari hanging out in other areas new to our Big Fish Network, so we believe them! So one of the key goals of this trip is to go and have a look and hopefully confirm there are other areas these beautiful giants frequent!
We’ll also be looking at seasonal shift in marine megafauna, particularly whale sharks and manta rays. Each year megafauna shift to the leeward side of the atolls from the prevailing monsoons. And each year, the time of this shift changes slightly and as part of our monitoring efforts over the last decade MWSRP records these movements. If 2019 is an ‘early shift’ year, then there may be some pioneers making the first moves by the time of our trip. If not, then we expect the eastern sites to still be frequented.
Guests are encouraged to capture images of all marine megafauna during the trip for individual identification purposes and you will be taught how to input these sightings onto national scale databases. Where available, profiles and life histories of those individuals will be returned so you can immediately and directly see the results of your efforts on species assessment work on mantas, turtles and other megafauna in the Maldives.
Part of MWSRP’s 2019 research schedule includes looking at microplastic abundance. The focus is on ingestion of microplastics by whale sharks but we are also looking at pathways. So sampling for microplastics in the water column, in plankton and – if we’re very ‘lucky’- direct from whale shark faecal samples will be taking place over the course of the trip.
Who are we looking for?
Well, the only pre-requisites for applicants are passion for marine life and a diving licence, preferably equivalent to PADI Advanced Open Water. Given this is an expedition we will need people who are happy to roll with whatever the day offers and be willing to learn on the job, chip in and work hard where needed. We are looking to assemble a team of people with a shared spirit of adventure and an active desire to contribute to marine megafauna research.