A pod of whale sharks of different sizes and ages was recently found in Qatari water by a team of environment experts. Feeding mainly on planktons, whale sharks are harmless gentle giants which are sought-after by divers to see.
Mohammad Al Jaidah, environment expert at the Ministry of Environment and supervisor of the team studying the whales in Qatari water, said a group of 100 whale sharks was found at the Al Shaheen Oilfield on June 9, this year. In a press release Al Jaidah said a team of experts comprising David Robinson, Fahad Al Duhaimi and Ibrahim Al Haidoos went to the oil fields at the north before dawn to monitor the gathering of the whale sharks at 6am.
“The group included whale sharks of different sizes and ages, 80 percent of which were males. The gender of the sharks could be identified by the way they dive,” he said. He said it is too difficult to find such grouping of whale sharks around the world, which only indicates Qatar ranks second to Mexico in the number and grouping of whale sharks.
The team fixed monitoring devices on two male whale sharks they named ‘Environment’ and ‘Nasser’. The team of experts also found a lot of shark eggs, some of which were taken to laboratories to identify the DNA and name the species. The team studying the whale sharks began the project in April and will go on for seven months. A documentary about whale sharks will be produced in collaboration with Al Jazeera Documentary.
An agreement in this regard was signed on April 26. The MoE is taking huge strides to preserve Qatar’s marine environment and develop its marine resources. One of the benefits of Qatar’s initiative in studying the whale shark is recognition of the country at the international level in this area in addition to providing information on this rare type of fish.
Considered the first of its kind in the country, the project is aimed at collecting information on the species and genetic comparisons of whale sharks found in Qatar, the purpose of gathering of these sharks at this time of the year, their behaviour and characteristics and comparison of these whale sharks with those in other parts of the world. Through satellite monitoring for a period of five months, the study will provide required information on whale sharks in Qatar and the region.
The whale shark is the largest species of fish in the world which can reach a length of 20m. According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature, sharks are endangered and millions are slaughtered each year for their fins and the study being conducted by the MoE could contribute to the protection of whale sharks.
source: The Peninsula
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