I LOVE WHALE SHARKS THOUGH I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE LET ALONE SWIM WITH ONE! SO THIS REMAINS ONE OF THE THINGS I MUST DO BEFORE THE WORLD ENDS ON 12/12/12 AS PREDICTED BY THE MAYANS.
Tourism WA Launches Community Driven Whale Shark Campaign: Facebook’s Biggest Tag!
Tourism Western Australia has launched a new Facebook campaign to share and support research into one of Western Australia’s most extraordinary visitor experiences, swimming with the world’s largest fish--- the whale shark.
Through the campaign, Tourism WA will work with whale shark research and conservation organisation ECOCEAN and call on its Facebook community to support its adoption of a whale shark by ‘liking’ a series of posts. Through the adoption, the community will be able to follow the whale shark’s movements, including its return to Western Australian waters in future seasons.
Tourism WA’s Director Domestic Marketing, Toni O’Donnell, said Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef was one of the few places on Earth where people could swim alongside these majestic gentle giants of the deep, which can grow up to 18 metres.
“The annual whale shark migration to Ningaloo is one of Western Australia’s truly extraordinary experiences attracting visitors from around the world,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“The campaign is a chance for Tourism WA to give back to its highly engaged online community, while supporting important research and conservation efforts to ensure the experience remains sustainable for future generations to enjoy.”
One of ECOCEAN’s key initiatives is its whale shark photo-identification library, a visual database of whale shark encounters.
Director of ECOCEAN Brad Norman said the spots on each whale shark were unique and by receiving photo submissions of individual whale sharks, the program could track their movements.
“To date, ECOCEAN has catalogued more than 41,000 images and received more than 18,000 reported sightings from around the world,” Mr Norman said.
ECOCEAN also runs the whale shark adoption program which maintains the global identification library and supports existing whale shark research projects. Adopters receive updates about their whale shark and its where-a-bouts, based on sightings and photo submissions received from around the world.
Ms O’Donnell said because photo-tracking relied on human encounters with individual whale sharks it could be difficult to maintain a steady stream of information, so in order to provide regular updates to the community, Tourism WA would also partake in ECOCEAN’s tagging program.
“The tagging program will support ECOCEAN’s research efforts whilst also enabling Tourism WA’s Facebook community to remain in contact with its adopted whale shark,” she said.
“Later in the year, we will develop a Facebook app which will share one of our most extraordinary experiences as well as profiling our whale shark’s movements and behaviour. The tagging is planned to take place in July this year and will also provide valuable research data to ECOCEAN.
“Tourism WA is taking a true community approach on this project, with the activity driven by community involvement and ownership.
“Swimming with whale sharks is on the ‘bucket-list’ for many travellers aspiring to visit this region, and through this project we hope they’ll find themselves one step closer to the experience whilst also gaining a valuable understanding of these majestic creatures.”
Whale sharks visit the warm waters of Ningaloo Reef each year between April and July, during which time visitors can swim with the gentle giants on dedicated eco tours departing Exmouth and Coral Bay.
For more information on this experience and holidaying in Western Australia visit www.westernaustralia.com.
Facebook users can join Tourism WA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ExtraordinaryWesternAustralia and support the program by ‘liking’ its whale shark adoption initiative over the next six weeks. Travel offers will also periodically be made available to the community so they can experience this extraordinary encounter themselves.
Whale shark facts: Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea, growing up to 18 metres long Ningaloo Reef is one of only a few places in the world where whale sharks appear regularly in any numbers, in near-shore waters where they are easily accessible to observers Mass coral spawning in March/April each year triggers the arrival of the whale shark to Ningaloo Reef.
While the official whale shark tourism season is from April to July, sightings can be made as early as March and as late as September Whale sharks are protected in Australian waters under state, federal and international legislation. A licensing system was introduced in 1993 for all whale shark tours in Western Australia.
Only in Western Australia can you get up close and personal with whale sharks
To be able to swim so near to a whale shark is one of life's greatest and most memorable joys. Go book the swim of your life at www.westernaustralia.com right this instant!