After almost 2 weeks with zero sightings, yesterday at almost the end of the expedition Rob our pilot spotted a whale shark opposite the Barclays shopping centre. He said he had to look twice and nearly fell out of his seat he was so surprised! We have searched solidly now for 2 weeks with no joy and Rob was coming in to land when we spotted this shark. Quick as a flash Rachel tagged it with our 3rd acoustic tag and the boat full of kind expedition members danced with joy!
With sightings so low we have had to keep our researcher and film crew busy. One of the things we did was to put down an acoustic receiver in Nyuli which is a deep site further south with the kind assistance of Harm and Selina from Pili Pippa. Harm and Selina run a fantastic snorkelling and diving dhow trip. They will be in charge of the receiver station and work together with us and with Rachel at the WCS to gather and analyse data. We all got some great footage of the Nyuli receiver being put down and I will put some pictures up soon. I had the opportunity to film it with my new video camera. Filming underwater is not as easy as Volker makes it look that’s for sure!! I really enjoyed it but have a lot to learn!
Another thing we did with the Australian filmcrew is take them up to the Shimba hills – Kenya is one of the only places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks in the morning and have sundowners with elephants in the afternoon! Quite a claim to fame and one that will feature in the documentary being made.
We have also been kept busy with local film crews doing stories on the whale sharks. We have had no less than 3 different crews from Nairobi alone. As always the huge interest in our work is so encouraging even when we don’t see any sharks! The boats have been full every day and people are so supportive of what we are trying to do. When they don’t see sharks they all look on the bright side and we haven’t had a single complaint if they don’t see sharks! People understand that whale sharks are wild and free (thank God) and if they don’t show up there’s nothing much we can do about it. But we have seen hundreds of dolphins each day which is always very special. We are learning more each time we take the boat out and put the plane up. This expedition is one of the longest aerial surveys of Kenya’s south coast ever to be carried out. It’s amazing what you can do with community support and interest from the public – we are acutely conscious of that and very grateful to everyone who has supported us.
This shark we tagged yesterday has been adopted and sponsored by London Vision Clinic and is to be called Eagle Eye. Thank you so much to Professor Dan Reinstein and the London Vision Clinic for their kind and constant support to our project. It is through Professor Dan that we met world renowned concert pianist Katya Grineva who you might remember visited the project last year to do some fund raising concerts. It is also thanks to Professor Dan that Katya, my dad and I all have eagle eye vision!
Pictures of Eagle Eyes to follow 🙂