While Africa has its ‘big five’, the Maldives is gaining ever-increasing renown for its own big five: the whale shark, the manta, moray eels, grey reef sharks and turtles. Guests at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will have an exclusive opportunity to get up close and personal with the largest of these, the whale shark, when the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) returns to the resort in November. The MWSRP is a charity that exists to conduct whale shark research and to foster grass-roots conservation initiatives within the Maldives and throughout the Indian Ocean. Based at Conrad Maldives until February 2012, the programme’s volunteers will conduct invaluable whale shark research as well as hold educational programmes and run whale-shark spotting excursions for resort’s guests.
“Conrad Maldives is delighted to continue our sponsorship of the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme for a fifth year,” says Carsten Schieck, general manager, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. “Our resort is located in the right part of the country for seeing whale sharks and with the MWSRP experts based on our island, we will be able to offer our guests the unparalleled opportunity to see and learn more about this mysterious animal”.
As well as conducting important research, the MWSRP workers will take guests on snorkelling or diving excursions to see the sharks, using their expert knowledge of whale shark behaviour gained over years of research to give guests the best possible chance of finding these elusive fish.
Found in the Maldives year round, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a massive filter-feeding shark and, being the largest fish in the world, is one of the country’s wildlife ‘must sees’. Very little is known about the whale shark, which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’. The MWSRP’s research is aimed at filling these knowledge gaps, enabling the effective conservation of this species in the future.
Sightings, video and whale shark information will be regularly updated on the resort’s