Having a whale shark of a time: Conrad Maldives announces the 2013-2014 whale shark spotting with the scientists season
Maldives Promotion House – Conrad Maldives Rangali Island cements its reputation as the resort that brings its guests closest to whale sharks when the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme team returns to the luxury resort this May. During their two-month summer visit the charity will run regular snorkelling excursions for guests to swim with whale sharks as well as collect data and conduct research into this endangered and little-known animal. The researchers settle in for a longer session in the autumn when they return in September, remaining on the island until the following February.
“With our location in South Ari Atoll, Conrad Maldives is just a short boat ride from the reef where whale sharks are commonly found and we have an 80% success rate in finding them,” said general manager Peter Nilsson. “As the only resort in the country hosting a research programme we’re also able to share information and insight into these incredible animals with our guests”.
Found in the Maldives all year round, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a massive filter-feeding shark and, being the largest fish in the world, is one of the country’s wildlife ‘must sees’. Very little is known about the whale shark which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’.
Aiming to fill the many gaps in the general public’s knowledge is the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP), a joint British and Maldivian registered charity dedicated to protecting and researching this little-known and endangered animal. Based at Conrad Maldives for nine months of the year, they host whale shark spotting excursions which offer an unrivalled chance to see and swim with whale sharks and learn more about these incredible creatures from the experts. The three-hour snorkeling trip, led by marine biologists from the MWSRP, is priced at US$200 per person with profits going to the MWSRP.
Sponsored by Conrad Maldives since 2007, the MWSRP are a leading authority on whale sharks in the Maldives and an active member of the international conservation coalition, the Shark Alliance. MWSRP have been building up a demographic profile of the whale shark population in the Maldives and over the past six years have documented over 1000 encounters. The pioneering research of the MWSRP into the demography and movements of the whale shark population in the Maldives provides the scientific basis behind the programme’s conservation goals.
Sightings, video and whale shark information will be regularly updated on the resort’s facebook page: www.facebook.com/