The Start of the Season

October 12, 2018

Sorry it’s been a while, we have been incredibly busy! While the whale sharks were initially late, they have arrived ‘en masse’ to Nosy Be this year since the start of October, with more than 14 different whale sharks identified in a single day last week (our record!). Since the year started, our team has identified a whooping 43 different individuals, with 23 ‘new’ sharks that we had never identified before. This brings us to a total of 261 sharks since the inception of the project in 2015!

We still see the friendly regulars, such as Michel, Georges, Théodore, Ignace, Alphonse and Clasperfin, sharks that we see each season since 2015. It is a relief to see them alive and healthy, although Théodore seems to have injured his dorsal fin since last year. We haven’t seen Sirius yet.

Georges (MD-173) is a small 4 meters male who we first met last year

We are happily settled in MADA Megafauna‘s new office next door to Les Baleines Rand’eau‘s new shiny center in Madirokely. It makes a big difference to have a few desks and laptops to process data, and we have possibly the best office view.

We have grown! As part of a new collaboration with the IHSM we are happy to welcome Léonce, a student in marine biology at IHSM, as our first Malagasy scientific assistant. Thanks to the ClearReef Social Fund, we have also recruited a local animator, Bruno, who will be soon delivering the education program to two local schools in Nosy Be, as well as animating activities focusing on the ocean with the kids every Saturday since a month. A great success so far!

Bruno teaching local kids about whales

As part of our ongoing collaboration with MADA Megafauna, like last year we are hosting ‘scientific stays’ allowing tourists to join us for three weeks and help us collect data. Thanks to Juliette, Guillaume, Mario, Chloé, Pierre, Dianne and Chantal for all their help and enthusiasm!

Léonce, Stella and Christian discussing whale sharks
From top left to bottom right: Mario, Pierre, Guillaume, Bruno, Stella, Chantal, Dianne, Chloé and Léonce

Ahead of the season, I delivered a few refresher training sessions on the code of conduct, which were very successful. I met up with new operators who were keen to adopt our guidelines for safer and better interactions with whale sharks, and we definitely see the results out on the water. Thanks to all the operators who adopted the code of conduct so far!

Finally, we are excited to be returning to potential new whale shark hotspots in the region, with two research expeditions planned later this season, and looking forward to the visit of project co-supervisor, Dr. Simon Pierce. Stay posted for more updates!

Thanks for your support!