Twenty eight individuals from a mix of dive masters, boat managers, law enforcers, and park staff were added to the pool of wildlife conservationists after completing the Elasmobranch Research and Conservation Training last February 24 and 25.
Lectures were given out by Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, Atty. Marissa Fox, and Mr. Ryan Murray on the first day of training. The three are part of LAMAVE which has key conservation projects in the Visayan seas. They introduced the LAMAVE Project to the audience as well as giving talks about the top predators of Tubbataha, shark biology and Identification, shark interaction best practices, and shark cataloguing through photo-identification.
The team conducted an in-water practical exercise on the second day. With the help of whale shark and manta ray dummies, they practiced the correct positioning, distance, and angle in taking photos of the said animals for identification purposes. LAMAVE also taught the participants the ways to upload their photos on the Wildbook for whale sharks (www.whaleshark.org). The website hosts an international database of individual whale sharks assigned with different names which give them a unique identity. These animals exhibit markings that serve as their ‘fingerprint’ between their 5th gill slit and the posterior attachment of their pectoral fin to the body. Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest extant species of fish.