In Kiswahili the whale shark is called “papa
translating as “shark covered in shillings”.
There is a local legend that God
was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish, that he gave
his angels handfuls of gold and silver coins to throw down from heaven
onto its back.
So it goes that whale sharks have their magical markings and swim
near the surface, catching the sun on their backs, as a way of saying
to their maker.
Whale sharks have called Kenyan waters home for
Recently, there has been a significant increasewhich
is perhaps related to the post El Nino mantis shrimp invasion.
Based on Diani Beach the East African Whale Shark Trust was founded
by Volker Bassen in response to
the dramatic increase in sightings
as well as increased interest
from the tourist sector.
The increase in whale sharks along the Kenyan coast has meant that
they have become more of a target.
Under international law, whale
sharks are only given a secondary type of protection. They are listed
under CITES Appendix II meaning that trade in whale sharks is allowed
but must be monitored.
Although relatively little is known about
the biggest fish in the ocean,
most specialists will agree that this
level of protection is not enough.
The overall aim of many whale shark
projects is to raise awareness so that the level of protection afforded
to whale shark is increased. The more we know about whale sharks
the easier it will be to review the level of protection. The EAWST
aims to provide a research centre for collecting and analyzing data
on the local whale shark population, its habits and movements. The
Trust works closely with other regional organizations because whale
sharks are migratory.
that their work to date is just the beginning for whale shark conservation
potential for cutting edge research and conservation initiatives
as well as tourism boosters is immense.
We are dedicated to raising
awareness and protecting the whale shark, and would ask that you
help us to
continue our work.