I have recently had the opportunity to start writing for Eco Citizen. Eco Citizen has taken me out of the world of fashion and lifestyle and plonked me right back into the arms of my first love… environmental science and preserving our natural world (I have an inner hippie I have to keep happy). In all seriousness though Eco Citizen is giving me the opportunity to learn and write about some of the innovative and inspiring projects people are working on world wide in order to sustain and harness the renewable energy of our planet. Solar power, wind energy, geothermal and other emerging ideas in sustainable technologies are fast becoming part of our everyday lives in Australia. If we harness them correctly we can start to make a real difference to the damage we have all been making to our one and only planet. Being given the opportunities to write about such ideas is very inspiring.
One of my favourite articles I have had the privilege to write so far was about the Whale Shark in Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia
Picture this; white sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, turquoise lagoons, vast clear open oceans filled with manta rays, turtles, dolphins, whales, dugongs and brightly coloured coral reef fish. Now envision the world’s largest infringing reef, with one of the world’s largest fish swimming close by – the Whale Shark. These ocean giants can reach lengths of 12 metres and weigh up to 20 tonnes and in appearance they are grey to brown with white spots among pale vertical and horizontal stripes. Luckily for us the Whale Shark is completely harmless to humans, surviving solely on krill and small fish.
Oceanwise Expeditions are the only Whale Shark Research Expedition on the entire Ningaloo Coast that are owned and operated by marine scientists. Not surprisingly the Ningaloo Coast is a World Heritage listed site by UNESCO so it is essential when exploring this beautiful place you abide by special precautions that protect and preserve this location that the marine scientists, biologists and ecologists at Oceanwise Expeditions are trained to do.
Oceanwise Expeditions offer The Advanced Ecotourism Certified ‘Whale Shark Research Expedition’. This adventure filled day allows you to swim with the Whale Shark, snorkel amongst the pristine coral gardens and gaze at the Manta Rays, colourful reef fish, Dolphins, Dugongs and Whales.
Little is known about the Whale Shark but what we do know is that the Whale Sharks that visit the Ningaloo Coast from April to July are primarily adolescent/juvenile males. They visit these waters during this time due to the high amount of Krill that come with the Leeuwin Current – a warm current of tropical waters that flows southward down the West Australian coast.
The research program at Oceanwise Expeditions is revealing aspects of the Whale Shark that have never been able to be investigated before. They have been able to measure certain sharks growth rates, age at maturity, population modeling and monitor associated biodiversity such as fish and scarring from boat strikes. These findings are essential in insuring the Whale Sharks protection and survival.
Not only do the team at Oceanwise expeditions put solid effort into the research of the Whale Shark they also research the effects of human impact on the coral reef ecosystems and the marine biodiversity in the area. These programs are fundamental to understanding and managing the effects of global climate change, tourism, offshore oil and gas developments, shipping, and other human impacts on this unique World Heritage Property and associated marine biodiversity.
By participating in the Oceanwise expeditions you are contributing to the research efforts that protect these magnificent sea creatures and the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.
For more information on Oceanwise expeditions and the Whale Shark visit http://www.oceanwise.com.au