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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.To Top
Even though whale sharks are passive and gentle creatures, it is important to remember certain rules when interacting with them.
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 fishermen.
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.