A project of MCS-Seychelles in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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A research programme into the aggregation of juvenile whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, has been undertaken by the Marine Conservation Society Djibouti (MCSD). Visiting whale shark researchers from Australia, Seychelles and the United Kingdom supported an intensive scientific week, in January 2006, during which a SPLASH satellite tag was attached to a 3.5m male whale shark that was subsequently named 'Shiraz'. It is hoped that Shiraz will shed some light on the activities of the numerous young whale sharks found in the Gulf of Tadjoura and answer the question 'Dothese sharks migrate away from the area or in fact stay here all year round?'
Shiraz has already had an eventful life as he carries two large deep scars on his left-hand side, possibly caused by another shark or perhaps a failed harpoon capture attempt outside of Djibouti's waters, where the sharks are protected. He has also lost the tip of his lower tail fin. He is obviously a survivor and we hope he can shed some light on the mysteries surrounding his species in the northern end of the Indian Ocean.
This project has been made possible by the support and cooperation of a number of partners assisting MCSD; the principle partner is Megaptera, a French organisation principally involved with the study and monitoring of marine mammals and now also pelagic sharks such as the whale shark. The Ministry of Environment for Djibouti have also partnered the programme. Overseas partners include the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles who have provided technical support and advice for the monitoring and tagging operations as well as input from researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Reefcare International, Australia.
The costs of the project have been sponsored largely by the Cooperation Service of the French Embassy in Djibouti (SCAC), by local tour operator Dolphin Excursions Sarl, and by the Fondation Nature & Decouvertes.