Water, water everywhere, now whale sharks in it too
One of the largest aggregations of whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, has been found off the coast of the Al Shaheen oil field in Qatar.
Finding whale sharks in these waters was a surprise since the water temperature rises upto 34 degrees Celsius during the summer, which is usually too warm for sharks to thrive in.
The Qatar Whale Shark Project (QWSR) was a research project launched in 2010 by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and Maersk Oil Research and Technology (MO-RTC) when Soren Stig, a Maersk Oil offshore worker discovered more than 100 whale sharks surrounding a platform. Al Shaheen, which produces close to a third of Qatar’s oil, is the largest offshore oil field in Qatar and is operated by Maersk Oil on behalf of Qatar Petroleum.
As part of the project, the research team has released a new documentary film titled A Gathering of Giants – The Whale Sharks of Qatar. This focuses on the research trip that the MO-RTC undertook in conjunction with the MoE off the Al Shaheen oil fields in the central part of the Arabian Gulf. The film is around 28 minutes long and features incredible visuals by Emmy Award-winning underwater cameraman, Michael Pitts.
For the QWSR project, the Research team uses a variety of sophisticated methods to study whale sharks including boat surveys, platform monitoring, aerial surveys, spot patterns identification, acoustic monitoring and laser measurements to locate and track different types of whale sharks under the water.
Whale sharks are to be found in nine main areas around the world: Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibuti; Seychelles; Gulf of Mexico; Maldives; Gladden Spit, Belize; Galapagos Islands; Gulf of California; Tofo, Mozambique.
Watch the film below: