In 1996 the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles started monitoring and tagging
Whale Sharks in Seychelles waters. As a result of our efforts the Government of Seychelles
declared the shark a protected species in 2003.
The monitoring programme in past years relied on being able to identify individual
whale sharks and then record their activities and movements by subsequent re-sightings.
Sharks were identified by digital Photo-Identification and entered in the Seychelles
whale shark database.
Funding from the project over the last four years was partly through a GEF Protected
Areas project in which MCSS was looking at the feasibility of Temporal Protected
Areas around the foraging shark aggregations. The project has established a permanent
database for collection and analysis of whale shark population size, movements and
habits in the area, and environmental and ecological parameters affecting it. These
data inform the decision making process regarding fisheries, conservation and protection
both locally and regionally.
The GEF PA programme came to an end in June 2015 and as there have been very low
numbers of sharks seen since MCSS no longer operates a whale shark monitoring programme.
We do however keep our eyes open and if they are present in September and October,
the usual whale shark season in Seychelles, we do try to undertake some monitoring
if there are substantial sightings.
We do still support an annual whale shark monitoring programme in Djibouti in December
/ January each year, see the Djibouti project page for details.