The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) eco-tourism industry in Oslob, Cebu has been facing criticism from some conservationists who say that the feeding of the sharks by locals is resulting in unnatural behavior for the world’s largest fish. Critics argue that feeding the whale sharks could make the animals dependent on humans for food and have a negative effect on the sharks ability to find food on their own.
Researchers have expressed similar concerns in the past and have noted that the feeding of the sharks could affect natural migration patterns and make the whale shark more susceptible to poaching and boat-related injuries.
Proponents of Oslob’s whale shark eco-tourism industry say that the sharks are not being harmed, and the industry helps to support the community. Another often-cited benefit of shark-related eco-tourism is that it helps raise awareness about sharks, which can be beneficial to conservation efforts.
Kudos to Dani Zapata, the divemaster of the Solmar V, for cutting a rope free from a female whale shark (Rhincodon typus) near Roca Partida, Mexico. The video footage was shot by YouTube user Ed Gentry. The whale shark was 30′ (9m) pregnant female, according to the Solmar V’s video trip report. The rope was cutting into the whale shark’s flesh and creating a hindrance for the animal and could potentially have become life-threatening for the animal. Dani cut the rope free with a pocket knife.
Check out the Solmar V video trip report for more footage of the rescue effort and to hear Dani’s first-hand account of cutting the whale shark free of the rope.
Vimeo user Surya P recently added this video, which features some nice whale shark (Rhincodon typus) footage filmed in Indonesia’s Cendrawasih Bay. The video includes a lot close-ups, along with some footage of a couple of whale sharks grabbing a snack from fishing nets.
YouTube user feedinggiants recently shared another episode of “Feeding Giants: The Tuki Chronicles,” which focuses on research team looking at the effects of humans feeding whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) off of Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. Some observations reported by the team included the sharks apparently becoming less concerned with the presence of humans, sharks remaining in the area for extended periods of time, sharks competing at boats for handouts, and sharks remaining at boats after feeding stopped.
The researchers raised concerns about a reduction in the variety of the whale sharks’ diet as a result of being fed a single food source (“uyap”), as well as concerns over a potential decrease in natural migration of the sharks, due to the sharks remaining in the area for an “unnatural” amount of time. The issue of poaching and sharks being less afraid of boats was also mentioned as a potentially negative effect of feeding the whale sharks.
Here’s a “shark trapped in a fishing net” video with a happy ending from Conservation International. The video documents a rescue effort by divers in Indonesia’s Cendrawasih Bay to release a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) from a “lift net” used for catching smaller fish. According to the video description, whale sharks can become entangled in the nets after being drawn toward them by the small bait fish that the nets are targeting.
According to the video description, the fishermen using these nets are looking at alternate designs that could prevent similar incidents.