Last month we brought you the disturbing news that one of the tags we helped researchers place on whale sharks in the Maldives this year had been ‘found’ by fishermen. The fishermen had put a ransom on the tag, refusing to surrender it to the research team until they paid a substantial sum.
I heard from Adam Harman, one of the team, this morning, who says that they have finally got the tag back (after the government intervened).
Now they are in possession of the tag they can download data stored at 10 second intervals (instead of the 5 minute intervals the tag beams to the team via Argos satellites). “Initial analysis of the data indicates that the shark [Nick] was killed before the tag was removed,” Adam says. “Right now we are working on the data but the initial dive profile analysis is not a common dive profile. It is up and down near the surface before the tag releases. Then as soon as the tag releases the course of the tag is very direct – like it is on a boat.”
We’re all very sad about this, particularly since the Maldives government has gone so far this year towards protecting these beautiful and little studied creatures.