The video below, created by Thurston Photography, beautifully shows the grace of whale sharks swimming in the open ocean.
This past week, Save the Blue successfully deployed the first fin-mounted tag on a female whale shark! This is extremely crazy news, as this means Blueberry is not only Save the Blue's first fin-mounted tagged female whale shark, but the first fin-mounted tagged female whale shark in the world! You can now check out Blueberry's page for more information under the Whale Shark tab.
While we are excited to welcome a female whale shark to the Save the Blue team, the implications of Blueberry's data are much more important. Blueberry is our hope for big insights into female whale shark congregation areas, breeding areas, and where they raise their young. As of now, we have little to no information on any of this, and Blueberry could be the key to helping protect all of those areas and whale sharks!
Abam taking a photo ID of Blueberry's spot pattern for the books!
On the trip to Sumbawa to tag whale sharks Bruce and Blueberry, the team discovered both female and male whale sharks. We have yet to discover where the females and males congregate together, so this is huge news!
From Abam, who tagged Bruce and Blueberry:
We managed to identify 15 different individuals of whale shark, 2 of which are females. This is a very rare occasion. We might have mentioned it to you while in Cenderawasih, from around 130 individuals that has been identified in Cenderawasih, only 3 of them are females. Unfortunately, I could only spend a limited amount of time in Sumbawa because I have to go to Merauke next week, but when we’re about to leave Saleh Bay to Sumbawa, we are notified that 2 different fishermen each reported that they had 10 whale sharks in their net in two consecutive days! I think if we spend some more time in the bay, we could be identifying more and more whale shark! Looking at the unique characteristic of the bay, it is possible that this bay could be the home to a big hidden whale shark population!
Photo of Blueberry, Save the Blue's first female tagged whale shark.
We're so happy to announce that Save the Blue is officially recognized as a non-profit! All your donations are now tax deductible :)
We are absolutely thrilled to announce that the data that Save the Blue has been collecting since our initial tagging trip has contributed to some major whale shark research. Dr. Mark Erdmann, vice president of Asia-Pacific marine programs at Conservation International and our on-the-ground marine biologist in Cendrawasih Bay, spent ten days with the Georgia Aquarium researching stress levels in whale sharks. For the first time, scientists have been able to conduct successful wild whale shark health assessments! We are so unbelievably proud to have been able to collaborate with Conservation International and the Georgia Aquarium to open the door into understanding wild whale sharks, and how we can best support their health.
We recommend reading an article published by the Georgia Aquarium that explains the insights the tagged sharks have provided the team.
Additionally, here's a video produced by the Georgia Aquarium showing footage of the process of drawing blood samples from and tagging the sharks!
Press coverage of our work!
Check out our six tagged whale sharks featured in an article written for Nikkei Asian Review! We're so proud of the work of Dr. Mark Erdmann, our marine-bioligist-in-crime, and are so glad to see our data being used in such impactful ways. Click here to read more about how our work with Conservation International (!!!!) has been helping whale sharks all around the world!