Whale Shark Program

Our Program

Join in our Whale Shark Monitoring Program for FREE when you participate on a daily scuba diving trip to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang with Hidden Depths Diving.

During dives where whale sharks are sighted, we take photographs of the distinctive markings on each shark.  These photographs are then passed on to a number of conservation organizations, together with information about conditions and behaviour. We brief divers on whale shark habits and behaviour, and encourage our divers to become involved in our conservation efforts. It is our aim to pass on our dedication for conservation to all our guests.

If you want to learn more about shark conservation, you can participate in the PADI Project Aware Shark Conservation Specialty.

 

About Whale Sharks

The whale shark is the largest living fish in the world! It is a filter feeding shark, which means that it sucks in food by opening its massive mouth. They can grow up to 20 metres and weigh up to 20 tonnes. This gentle giant has very distinctive markings, which can be useful in identifying individuals. It is difficult to obtain information about age and breeding habits, but they are thought to live between 60-100 years. Whale sharks are ovoviviparous, which means that their young hatch in the womb and are then born alive. A pregnant female was caught in Taiwan and was found to be carrying 300 embryos, but there is not enough information known to establish if this is the norm.

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Where we see them

We visit the dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang twice a week in the hope of an encounter with whale sharks.  The ocean in this area has a depth of 70-80 metres and currents bring nutrients from depth up to the surface. Whale sharks visit the area to feed on this plankton. Little is known about the migratory patterns of the whale sharks, so we are monitoring sightings of them and taking photographs in order to provide scientists with data to get a more accurate picture of their habits.

Diver Code of Conduct

We always advise our divers on how to conduct themselves underwater in their dive briefing. We provide specific advice on diving with whale sharks on dives where there is a chance of an encounter. Here are the guidelines we provide:

  • Do not attempt to touch, ride, or chase a whale shark
  • Do not restrict normal movement or behaviour of the shark
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 3 metres from the whale shark
  • Do not undertake flash photography
  • Do not use underwater motorized diver propulsion vehicles

Threats

The greatest threat to the whale shark is man, which is ironic considering they are no threat to us. The Red List of Threatened Species issued by the IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, places whale sharks in the vulnerable category. This is defined as:

VULNERABLE (VU) – A taxon is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future

Organizations we work with

We are committed to working with organizations that are collating information about sightings of whale sharks. It is hard to get an accurate picture of numbers due to their massive habitat area so every confirmed sighting will help add to the knowledge the scientific community has.

The organizations we work with are:

Whale Shark Dotswww.whalesharkdots.org

This is a local project focusing on the marine parks of the Andaman Sea in Thailand, which aims to achieve sustainable coastal management by passing on awareness, knowledge and skills. This project is led by SAMPAN (Strengthening Andaman Marine Protected Area Network).  SAMPAN Project is led by the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with support from the French Development Agency (AFD) under the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).

Whale Shark Projectwww.whalesharkproject.org

This a project run by The Shark Trust and Project Aware to encourage all water users  internationally to record their sightings to provide a better understanding of the behaviour, population and biology of whale sharks.

Wildbook for Whale Sharkswww.whaleshark.org

This is a photographic library containing over 43,000 photographs and 20,000 sightings recorded and is supported by the Marine Megafauna Foundation.

The data provided to these organizations is used by scientists to help them understand whale sharks and aid in decisions about conservation.

By diving with Hidden Depths Diving, you are contributing to the knowledge held by the scientific community about whale sharks and will help shape policy in the future about their status, research projects and identification.

 


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Hidden Depths Diving
123 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Koh Lanta,
Thailand 81150
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info@hiddendepthsdiving.com

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