18 July 2005

Whale sharks: enigmas of the ocean

Some of the great experiences in life come from being overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, and every year more and more people are having this experience off the coast of North West Cape in Western Australia.

Whale sharks: enigmas of the oceanOn the ocean side of the famous Ningaloo Reef the world's biggest fish, the whale shark, is providing an ecotourism experience like no other for many who travel to swim with these majestic creatures.

In May a conference in Perth heard from a variety of whale shark experts including academics and tour operators, many of whom explained the positive impact these fish are having on local economies from as far away as the Philippines and Belize.

But it's not a happy story across the world, with some countries legally - and illegally - hunting for whale sharks, which is contributing to a decline in numbers in some areas. And with still so little known about the fish and their breeding habits, conference delegates resolved to ensure that pressure continues to be applied to countries where protection is an issue.

The Breakfast program's Jean Burton spoke with Conference Convener and CSIRO Research Director John Keesing, who gave a fascinating insight into the life of the whale shark, and its future.

Source: www.abc.net.au


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