A crowdfunding appeal has resulted in two whale sharks being tagged by divers in the Tadjura Gulf off Djibouti.
The project was overseen by two French organisations: Nausicaa, the National Sea Centre in Boulogne; and Megaptera, an association dedicated to the monitoring and protection of whale sharks and marine mammals.
The volunteer tagging team was led by Megaptera’s Daniel Jouannet and “shark-handler” Ludwig Coulier of Nausicaa.
More than 100 people contributed to the appeal, which was initiated at the start of last year.
Juvenile whale sharks from 3.5 to 4.5m long gather each year in the Tadjura Gulf, and for the past14 years they have been monitored using photo-identification.
The surveys indicate that they can stay in the area for as long as 11 years before taking off either north into the Red Sea or east towards the Indian Ocean. Now it is hoped that the Argos Mk10 satellite tags will provide a clearer picture of their movements.
“Researchers will be able to study this emblematic animal’s lifestyle, migration and breeding habits in great detail, because the tags will collect a range of data about depth, temperature and light,” said Nausicaa’s MD Philippe Vallette.
“To date, their migration habits are still much unknown.”
But, “during the study, the data will be de-coded and analysed by scientists to monitor the animals’ behaviour and movements. This will improve conservation of the species.”