, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 371-374
Date: 27 Oct 2009

Evidence of continued hunting of whale sharks Rhincodon typus in the Maldives

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Superficial dermal wounds in whale sharks are reported to heal rapidly as with many other elasmobranchs. Here observations of two wounded whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Maldivian waters suggest that free ranging sharks are able to recover and rapidly heal from the effects of deeper wounding on internal organs or amputations. One specimen observed impaled by a wooden harpoon shaft, was subsequently re-encountered nearly a year later. The other suffered a near severed first dorsal fin but showed signs of rapid healing. These observations illustrate that despite national bans in whale sharks fishing, the practise persists in the Maldives. Further research to increase understanding of the demography of aggregations of this species is necessary before the impact of illegal exploitation on regional population trends can be determined. National governments are encouraged to enhance marine conservation outreach and education programmes throughout their territories.