[ASC-list] Eureka! Whale shark secrets revealed.

Toss Gascoigne director at tossgascoigne.com.au
Wed Sep 6 02:58:58 UTC 2017


(Posted on behalf of Samantha and Brad, the whaleshark people shortlisted for the Eurekas.  Nice people doing good work, and discovering how tough the not-for-profit route can sometimes be …...)


Australia’s only not-for-profit whale shark research organisation, ECOCEAN (www.whaleshark.org.au <http://www.whaleshark.org.au/>), marked International Whale Shark Day (30th Aug) by attending the Eureka Prizes awards ceremony in Sydney. ECOCEAN was a finalist in the Innovation in Citizen Science category, partly due to their work that involves school students in the satellite tracking of the world’s biggest fish.

ECOCEAN and University of Queensland researchers published their latest research, in Diversity and Distributions (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12618/full <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12618/full>), also on World Whale Shark Day, and solved a long-standing mystery about where Western Australia’s whale sharks go in the summer.

In a world first, satellite-tagged whale sharks were tracked using and returning to Ningaloo Reef throughout the year, and modelling suggests that it provides suitable habitat for them year-round. This is important information for the eco-tourism industry that operates at Ningaloo Reef, but is also vital for the long-term management and conservation of whale sharks. “Whale sharks are an endangered species. We need to know which areas are critical habitat for them, so that we can protect them into the future” said lead author Samantha Reynolds.

Schools around Western Australia sponsored many of the tags that gathered this vital data and students followed their sharks online (www.zoatrack.org <http://www.zoatrack.org/>), while engaging in STEM learning activities that use the charismatic whale shark to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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Toss Gascoigne and Associates
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CAMPBELL ACT 2612

Visiting Scholar, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science

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