|Click on the questions to see the answers below
|1. What is a whale shark?
2. Are they dangerous?
3. How should I approach one?
4. Why did you start the trust?
5. Who are your trustees?
6. What have you achieved so far?
7. What are your current projects?
8. How do I volunteer?
|What is a whale shark?
||The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, measuring
up to 18 metres and weigh up to 20 tons. It feeds on platonic creatures
and small fish, and has only tiny teeth. Like all sharks, it is cartilaginous
rather than bony. It is easily identified by its huge size, many
spots, and flattish front end. It can be found in tropical waters
worldwide, and is sought after by divers visiting Ningaloo Reef in
Australia, the Burma Banks near Thailand, on the south coast of the
Kenyan reef and remote islands in the eastern Pacific such as Isla
del Coco (Costa Rica) and the Galapagos archipelago (Ecuador). It
is generally considered not to be a threat to swimmers and divers.
In some parts of the world it is well protected, while in some areas
of Malaysia and Indonesia it is hunted (harpooned) for its fins and
meat. Whale sharks give birth to live young - recently a pregnant
female was harpooned bearing 300 embryos of which 15 were alive.
|Are they dangerous?
How should I approach one?
Even though whale sharks are passive and gentle
creatures, it is important to remember certain rules when interacting
1. Never touch the sharks.
2. Maintain minimum distances as shown on the accompanying illustration:4
metres from the tail and 3 meters from the head and body.
3. Avoid flash photography and underwater scooters.
4. Limit interaction time to 30 minutes for a single shark and total
interaction time to 1 hour. It's important to follow these rules,
both for your own sake and for the sharks. If these rules are broken,
the shark is likely to become annoyed and engage in defensive behaviour.
Defensive behaviour includes:
A shark that does not exhibit any of these behaviours is likely
to stay in the area for much longer. If the shark continues to
feed while there are divers in the water, this is the best sign
that the shark is not bothered. It is also an amazing photo-opportunity!
|Why did you start the trust?
Based on Diani beach, the EAWST was founded in 2005
in response to the increase in the whale shark population along
the Kenyan coast as well as increased interest from the tourist
sector. Peak season for whale shark sighting is between November
and March. In the recent years there has been a significant increase
in whale shark sightings along the Kenyan coast. There is a clear
pattern of daily whale shark sightings emerging all year round
with peak season being between the months of November to April.
Whereas 10 years ago 20 whale sharks would be sighted in a year,
it is now not uncommon to see 20 a day during the “whale
shark” season. It is unknown at present whether the increase
in whale sharks is due to the congested shipping lanes between
South Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles or due to the increase
of mantis shrimp. It is clear however that there are many more
whale sharks along the south coast of Kenya, in particular off
Chale island and further that they are under threat from the local
The increase in the number of whale sharks along the south coast
of Kenya has meant that they have become a target. All that is
required by international law is that whale shark trade be monitored.
The EAWST provide a research centre for collecting and analyzing
data on the local whale shark population, its habits and movements.
The Trust works hand in hand with other regional organizations,
the ultimate aim being to increase protection afforded to the biggest
fish in the ocean and promote the conservation of the biggest fish
in the ocean.
you achieved so far?
• The trust was well-represented at the International
Whale Shark Conference in Perth, Australia in May 2005. Contacts
were made and Kenya was firmly placed on the global whale shark
• Our website is up and is regularly updated with our
activities and news.
• Researchers from the Hubbs Seaworld
Research Institute in San Diego, California, US visited the EAWST
headquarters in Aqualand Watersports Centre on Galu Kinondo beach
to initiate a satellite tagging programme in November 2005.
teams from Germany and Sweden visited the EAWST to film documentaries
in November and December 2005. Follow up visits were completed
in February 2006.
• A children’s book on the whale shark
is in draft awaiting illustration.
• Our founder took the King
of Sweden on a whale shark safari in December 2005 and the Royal
family swam with a 9 metre whale shark for over an hour. Needless
to say they were overwhelmed by the experience and they have pledged
their support to the trust.
• A fundraising movie night held
at the Nyali cinemax in March 2006 was a huge success with the
local schools and the local press.
• A gala dinner was held
on the ferry on 29 April 2006
• Our souvenirs are available
in various outlets.
•We made history in tagging the 17 sharks with satellite tags in
February 08. This is the highest number ever to be tagged in one
place at one time and we did it!!
•We attended the 2nd International
Whale Shark Conference in Mexico in July 08 and were the talk of
•We will put
out Kenya's first acoustic array in February 09 together with the