The gentle giants of the oceans need our help

Some fascinating and enigmatic creatures live within the oceans, and none as notable as the whale shark. Recognized as the largest fish on the planet, these incredible giants play a critical role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems.

Unfortunately, they face a series of challenges that put their survival at risk.

Whale sharks are a surprising and majestic species of fish that inhabit oceans around the world. They are known for being the largest fish known. These gentle giants have a checkerboard pattern on their back and a mouth wide enough to swallow a small car. His presence radiates a truly incomparable magnificence.

Despite their imposing size, divers and snorkelers actively seek the company of these docile creatures. These fascinating filter-feeding creatures roam open waters and travel great distances, captivating all those lucky enough to find them.

Unfortunately, the IUCN has classified the whale shark as an "Endangered" species, indicating that its populations could decline if conservation measures are not properly implemented and maintained. It is crucial to take action to protect this species and ensure its future survival.

Fight for food in the oceans

The underwater world is fascinating and full of connection. An example of this is the whale sharks, which live in a bustling city under the sea. These majestic animals act as true "cleanup crews", feeding on tiny creatures such as plankton and small fish. This helps prevent overcrowding and keeps life balance in check.

Unfortunately, the natural balance in the oceans has been altered due to various factors such as pollution and damage to habitats. This not only has a negative impact on the lives of whale sharks, but also in all other creatures that depend on a thriving ocean ecosystem.

Climate change has an impact on marine life, even affecting species such as whale sharks. With the increase in water temperatures, it is difficult for them to find their main food: plankton. This is because this food is moving towards colder areas, causing a reorganization in the marine ecosystem. The migration of whale sharks to new areas can be comparable to when your favorite restaurant moves to a new city. This change forces whale sharks to travel longer distances, which can pose risks for them. Imagine walking a long distance just to have lunch, it is exhausting and dangerous, especially with the presence of large boats in the water.

According to research carried out by the Marine Biological Association and the University of Southampton, it has been shown that the population of a particular species has suffered a decrease of 50% in the last 75 years. The researchers suggest that this reduction may be related to the development of industrial maritime transport activities. In the last 25 years, the number of large merchant ships around the world has experienced a significant increase, exceeding 50 times its initial number. These boats typically navigate shallow coastal waters, areas where whale sharks congregate in large groups.

The growing activity of industrialized shipping poses a threat to the majestic, slow-swimming whale sharks. Researchers are working hard to monitor and measure the impact this activity has on the population of these animals. The goal is to find effective solutions to prevent fatal collisions and protect whale sharks.

The ocean plays a fundamental role in feeding humans, however, it is important to be careful with our fishing habits. Overfishing occurs when we catch more fish than the ecosystem can support. This not only affects the species that depend on them such as whale sharks, but also the entire marine food chain. The situation you describe is similar to having a party and eating all the appetizers before the guests arrive.

In addition to catching fish, fishing nets unfortunately also capture other marine species. Whale sharks and other animals are sometimes accidentally caught in these nets.

Fishermen may find themselves in situations where they catch marine animals that they have no intention of keeping, selling, or even those that they are prohibited from keeping. The bycatch of marine species, such as fish, dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds, is a serious problem in fisheries. This occurs when these animals are accidentally caught in fishing nets or other devices used for fishing. Sometimes things don't go as planned. Instead of catching a goldfish, you might encounter a shark.

Small ateps, big impacts

Preserving the lives of whale sharks may seem like a daunting challenge, but we can all contribute in some way. First of all, it is important to be aware of our actions and avoid throwing garbage into the ocean. In addition, using organic products is also a very useful way to help. When we talk about fishing, it is important to opt for seafood that is sustainable, as this helps keep our oceans healthier. Additionally, we can support the creation of protected areas where whale sharks can move freely without getting caught in fishing nets.

Various conservation organizations, governments, researchers and local communities have taken action to address these challenges. Thanks to collaboration and teamwork, marine protected areas have been created that limit fishing and other activities that could be harmful. Additionally, international agreements and regulations have been established to more efficiently manage fishing and reduce bycatch. These actions seek to preserve our oceans and their biodiversity in a sustainable way.

The analogy of sharing knowledge with friends and family like a secret cake recipe is very apt. Like passing on the recipe, when more people understand the importance of whale sharks, they will be more likely to join efforts to protect them. This is the main objective of BioDB, to promote knowledge of each and every species.

Responsible ecotourism benefits whale sharks by generating conservation funds, providing educational opportunities, and supporting scientific research. It is essential to highlight the importance of minimizing any type of disturbance by following established guidelines. Additionally, it is necessary to educate visitors about these creatures and raise awareness about the importance of their ecosystem. To achieve this, local communities must be actively involved and, in many cases, regulations and codes of conduct must be implemented that ensure respectful interactions. Adopting this approach has a double positive impact: it contributes to the conservation of whale sharks and their habitats, while generating sustainable economic benefits.

When we protect whale sharks, we're not just benefiting them, we're also saving our oceans and ourselves. We can think of this as taking care of a huge garden. If we remove too many plants from that garden, its health will be compromised. The same thing happens in the ocean: if we remove too many creatures, the whole system breaks down.

When we protect whale sharks, we are helping to preserve the health and vitality of the oceans. These magnificent animals are like superheroes in the marine world, as they maintain balance even when they appear calm and slow.

It is important that we extend our care not only to our homes and loved ones, but also to the guardians of the ocean. By doing so, we will be contributing to the health of this vital ecosystem for both ourselves and the incredible creatures that call it home.

Assaf Levy is the founder and CEO of BioDB.com, a group whose purpose is to collect conservation data, raise awareness about biodiversity loss, and raise funds for this cause.

With information sustainability-times.com