Come September, the Gujarat forest department along with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is planning to tag seven to eight whale sharks off the coast of Gujarat. The tag that stays on the mammal for close to 45 days helps officials track the route taken by the sharks, the depth to which they travel and even their behaviour.
“We are planning to tag close to seven to eight whale sharks. Tagging is of particular importance in tracking the movement patterns of the shark,” said Manoj Matwal, project lead, Whale Shark Conservation Project. He said the tagging is likely to begin around September.
When asked if 45 days of data was enough, Matwal, who is also associated with the West Coast Marine Conservation Project, said it is not but the tags come off the whales due to various reasons. “The pressure under water, sea weeds and even other small fishes are responsible for the tag coming off the whales,” said Matwal.
So far only one whale shark has been tagged. “The data that we received from the first tagging showed that the shark travelled all the way to Maharashtra and Goa only to return to the same place where it was released in the first place,” said Matwal.
An official in the forest department said that tagging was to take place this year as well but so far things are in the planning stage.
It should be noted that following the first tagging in March 2011, a second one was to take place in May but it did not take off.