The first study on whales sharks in Nosy Be took place from 2005-2007 resulting in a publication on whale shark occurrence in Madagascar. Since then, regular reports of whale shark sightings have been noted around Nosy Be and, as a result, a tourism industry based around these sharks started to develop from 2011.
In 2014 project founder Stella Diamant saw her first whale shark in Nosy Be and started looking into setting up a project with tourism operators. Before this time, no work had been undertaken to establish population size, trend or connectivity with other aggregations. Whale sharks also lack protection in Madagascar and, in the face of growing tourism, no local regulations were in place to regulate interactions.
Following opportunistic data collection by our current partner Les Baleines Randéau in 2015, over 200 whale shark sightings were documented in Nosy Be in late 2015; making it likely this area is a relatively important hotspot for the species on a global level. These results were presented at the International Whale Shark Conference IV in Qatar, and marked the beginning of dedicated data collection and the inception of the Madagascar Whale Shark Project in 2016. The project was co-supervised by whale shark expert Dr. Simon Pierce and marine megafauna specialist Dr. Jeremy Kiszka.
To date, the project has identified more than 366 individual whale sharks, published the first study on whale shark movements in Madagascar, implemented a code of conduct and initiated an education program.
Photo Credits by: ©MadagascarWhaleSharkProject