Kona Nonprofit Seeks Help Collecting Whale Shark PhotosOctober 29, 2017, 3:00 PM HST (Updated October 28, 2017, 11:50 AM)
A newly founded Kona nonprofit is seeking the public’s help to collect whale shark photos taken in Hawai‘i as part of a conservation project. Hawai‘i Uncharted Research Collective is asking citizen scientists to share photographs via their website at www.hawaiiuncharted.org.
Photos showing the left side of the animal are most valued due to methods of identification used by global research groups. Submitting photos will help the nonprofit conduct scientific research benefiting whale shark conservation efforts.
HURC said in a press release that whale shark sighting in the Hawaiian Islands are fairly common, especially as waterproof cameras and similar devices are increasingly brought out to the ocean.
HURC hopes the joint project will merge community engagement with scientific research to learn more about local whale sharks. Currently, the nonprofit is working to understand population dynamics, distribution and movement, and international cross-matching of whale sharks. HURC is looking to include studies on genetics, toxins and animal movement via satellite tagging.
Members of the newly formed HURC have been based in Kona for the last 14 years with backgrounds in marine biology, ocean research and animal behavior. HURC is also partnering with Dr. Deni Ramirez Macias in the project, a leading researcher in the field for nearly two decades.