30 August 2021

International Whale Shark Day - 30 August.

 International Whale Shark Day on August 30th aims to increase awareness about a magnificent sea-dwelling creature. The whale shark’s declining numbers alerts us to their need for protection and conservation. These gentle giants fascinate marine biologists and aquatic enthusiasts alike.

In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the whale shark from vulnerable to an endangered species. Nobody knows the exact population of the whale shark. According to some estimates, there are only tens of thousands around the world. Primary reasons for the decline in numbers include illegal fishing, getting trapped in fishing gear, and colliding with boats. Since whale sharks move slowly, they’re easily caught. In certain parts of the world, such as Asia, products made from whale sharks are in high demand.

Another threat to whale sharks is plastic. Waste plastics finds its way to the oceans. When a whale shark feeds close to the surface, they easily ingest the plastic. This garbage gets lodged in the digestive tract. When this happens, a whale shark can no longer eat. Eventually, the large fish starves to death.

All of these things combined lead to the endangered status of the whale shark and the need to protect them.

During the International Whale Shark Conference in 2008 in Isla Holbox, over 40 whale experts and ocean activists declared August 30th International Whale Day. Since then the day continues to educate the world about the whale’s declining numbers.

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