The whale shark is the largest fish on planet Earth. Despite its mammoth size, it feeds on small plankton and fish by filtering them from the water. Whale sharks are known to aggregate seasonally at several remote sites around the world, but their whereabouts for most of the time is still largely a mystery.
Recent and ongoing telemetry and genetics research led by Dr. Stewart in collaboration with a number of other individuals, organizations, and industries in Kenya, the Maldives, Western Australia, and the Philippines is providing information on the local and regional movements that is key to ocean wide, and perhaps global conservation of whale sharks. Since May 2009, 44 tags were out on whale sharks in addition to 45 whale sharks tagged in 2008 , making this the largest Whale Shark tracking program in the world. The research is being supported by a grants from a number of organizations including WWF-Philippines, WWF-Denmark, BHP Billiton, Kerzner Marine Foundation, the Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation, Ningaloo Dreaming, Hemingway’s Conrad Rangali, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the Anheuser-Busch Conservation Fund, and various supporters of the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, the Maldivian Manta Ray Project, and the East African Whale Shark Trust.