Whale sharks, turtles and seahorses in ThailandProject & Pod News / 04 April 2022
Our Marine Conservation team are based on the tropical island of Koh Tao in Thailand and are helping to protect and conserve many magnificent ocean creatures including huge whale sharks, turtles and seahorses.
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest extant shark species and largest fish species found in oceans worldwide. It’s surprisingly that there is very little information available regarding their ecology or breeding strategies.
Our Marine Conservation team in Thailand are running a special new Whale Shark project to assist on the existing whale shark identification program that has been running since 2017. Koh Tao Whale sharks and Thai Whale Sharks are using citizen science to collect sightings of whale sharks in Thai waters.
Our volunteers and interns in Thailand help to assist with the collection and analysis of whale shark sightings in and around Thai waters. So far the data collected has led to the identification of over 280 individual whale sharks around Gulf of Thailand waters, the goal for the future is to have the same success across all of Thailand’s waters.
Seahorses have long been in trouble due to their slow moving nature and the high demand for them within the Chinese medicine trade. There are currently 46 species of seahorse around the world but the team in Thailand would like to find out more about those which are found around the island of Koh Tao.
The team have designed a project to fill in gaps surrounding their population numbers and also promote seahorse conservation as a citizen science project. All sightings are shared on iNaturalist which are then added to globalsightings. With the help of volunteers and interns the team will collect data on the seahorse population dynamics, species abundance, locality and reproductive timings. They will collect information on seahorse sightings including date, time, depth, location and species so that they create a map detailing the movement of seahorses across the years and the abundance of species.
Around Koh Tao the team commonly find green and hawksbill sea turtles and they are a large point of interest for the many divers and tourists coming to the island. There is already a sea turtle identification program but they would like to take it one step further and look at the growth rates of sea turtles in the wild with the help of volunteers and interns.
The team are looking for more volunteers to help them with the conservation and research of the marine life in Thailand. If you would like to get involved and join the Marine Conservation team in Thailand you can visit our project page to find out more here: www.podvolunteer.org/projects/marine-conservation-thailand
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