Whale Shark Conservation in Indonesia

Indonesian fishermen teamed up with local communities and government agencies to help make the whale shark conservation in the country successful.

From hunters to heroes, fishermen in Indonesia are helping in whale shark conservation.

Importance of Whale Shark Conservation

Seeing the dramatic decline in the whale shark population, fisherfolks, local communities, conservationists, and government officials teamed up. They collaborated to establish a sustainable future for these impressive and majestic sea creatures.

“Different cultures across Indonesia call them by different names. Here in Flores, they refer to it as the god’s fish, while some other islands call it the starry shark. Many believe the sharks bring good luck with fishing, and there are stories of them rescuing fishermen from the sea,” according to Iki, a tour guide.

The tour guide added that fishermen hunt sharks to sell the fins, which can fetch a handsome amount. When a fisherman is in despair, he’ll make desperate moves to feed his family and himself.

The fruition of whale shark conservation in Indonesia encouraged other communities and nations worldwide. It showed that wildlife and local communities can benefit from new economic opportunities.

Whale Sharks in Indonesia

Indonesia is the world’s biggest archipelago, consisting of five remarkable islands and around 30 smaller groups. It’s a few places in the world where whale sharks swim and feed freely on its crystal waters.

These sociable but humble leviathans of the sea are the world’s largest fish species. They are Viviparous and give birth to live young. They are not mammals but, as a matter of fact, belong to the shark family.

Whale sharks feed on plankton, small fishes, and krill and can reach up to 60 feet. The magnificent polka-dotted giants can weigh up to 20 tonnes. They prefer warmer waters, often visiting Asian countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines celebrate the arrival of whale sharks called the “Butanding Festival” every April.

Its gargantuan size makes it a target for hunting meat and fins, declining its population near Indonesian islands. Local communities and conservationists established a whale shark conservation to rectify the sad situation.

Declining Whale Shark Population

The worldwide population of whale sharks is uncertain. However, according to the latest research, the population descended to 50% since the 1980s. It’s still a mystery if the total downturn is due to the evolution in migratory patterns or changes in water temperature.

Global warming or climate change is a considerable issue suggesting multiple concerns for marine scientists since 2011. The warming of oceans causes oxygen levels to drop, adversely affecting marine life and altering behavioural patterns.

Overfishing is another significant concern that whale sharks and other sea creatures face. Fishermen catch sharks for their oil, meat, and fins. This unacceptable practice disturbs marine ecosystems, causing coral reef destruction.

Whale shark conservation is the best remedy to preserve its declining population. They are already on the list of endangered species. Let them live for centuries, and don’t let them become extinct.

Image Source: adiprayogo liemena/Pexels