One of the researchers in the world wide effort to save the whale sharks is Alessandro Ponzo, located in the Phillippines. Here is a short note from him to us explaining the efforts of these researchers.
Unfortunately the whale shark are still exploited in Asia for meat and fins.
They move continuously and we think there is only one big population in the pacific-indian ocean with animal of different ages going in different places. (age and sex segregation)
Very little is known about this species because they are very hard to follow.
There is an international library and software online (ecocean) created by australian researchers.
We all (world-wide) upload our pictures online, so that the software can recognize it and tell us where and when the animal have been seen before. Every whale shark has a different spot patterns and a picture of the left side of the animal just behind the gills is used for photo identification.
We use the laser to estimate the total length of the animal, mainly for aging purpose. Researchers in Mozambique just found a relationship between the distance between the gills and the dorsal fin to the total length of the animal.
So basically with a photo of the head we can measure the total body length and more or less estimate age and sexual maturity.
Attached are some pics of our frame. Screw are for fine tuning of the parallelism of the laser. Have to tested yet. I'll let you know in 2 weeks.
We will use it also for measuring whale+dolphins and manta ray. I'll keep you updated.
The device in the picture was custom made by Sea Turtle Scuba, Inc. for scientific research. It is currently being used by scuba divers in the Pacific Ocean to measure whale sharks. It holds two green lasers. It will take any standard camera on its universal camera mount.
Below you see another type of mount made to hold the Sea Turtle Scuba Green Lasers to measure whale sharks.