“People will protect what they love, love what they understand and understand by experiencing. “– Dr. Alistair Dove, vice president of Science and Education at Georgia Aquarium.

 

International whale shark day: a day that comes once a year, bringing attention to a species we at Georgia Aquarium learn from every day.

 

When Georgia Aquarium first opened its doors, over 15 years ago, the world knew very little about whale sharks. Now, thanks to researchers both here at home and across the globe, whale sharks are one of the best-studied sharks. A lot of that knowledge comes from caring for them at the Aquarium, giving our researchers the rare opportunity to study them every day.

 

The whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium are incredible ambassadors for their species. Seeing them in person, it is impossible to not be affected by their presence, which is truly influential in educating our guests about the importance of advocating for these endangered sharks. Our staff are able to conduct research in ways that would be nearly impossible in the field. This knowledge can then be used to help preserve and care for these animals.

 

“It’s a fantastic opportunity, when people are in that moment of wonder, to share with them information about the biology and conservation needs of this species and to advance education for all age groups,” said Dr. Dove.

 

Since 2004, Georgia Aquarium and its staff have been leaders in the global research efforts to study and preserve whale sharks; from leading the first successful wild whale shark health assessments in Indonesia to tracking over 1,000 whale sharks in the Yucatan peninsula, and spearheading ground-breaking whale shark reproduction studies in St. Helena. These research advancements have helped us understand whale sharks better than ever before and inform future conservation policies to protect and encourage whale shark population recovery.

 

Today, and every day, we recognize these incredible ambassadors from who we learn so much and who are still teaching us about their remarkable species. Georgia Aquarium protects whale sharks through research and conservation efforts in the field, in the laboratory and through our unique position as the only aquarium in the western hemisphere to display these elusive gentle giants.

 

Watch our International Whale Shark Day video, featured on our social media platforms, to learn more about the whale sharks in our care and active research efforts.