Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 713–722 | Cite as

Landings of whale sharks Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828 in Indian waters since protection in 2001 through the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

  • K. V. Akhilesh
  • C. P. R. Shanis
  • W. T. White
  • H. Manjebrayakath
  • K. K. Bineesh
  • U. Ganga
  • E. M. Abdussamad
  • A. Gopalakrishnan
  • N. G. K. Pillai
Article

Abstract

Since 28th May 2001, Whale shark Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828 have received the highest protected status for an animal in India through the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 Schedule-1. However, landings have still been recorded off the Indian coast since 2001, mostly as incidental bycatch in commercial fishing operations, and other sightings have also been reported. In the 1990’s, a targeted whale shark fishery existed off the Gujarat coast following increased demand for the flesh in some other Asian countries. Since the ban, landings of whale sharks have decreased substantially with only 79 recorded between 2001 and 2011. Landings were recorded in each year and in each month of the year with the highest landings in January and February. Between 2001 and 2011, the smallest specimen reported from Indian waters was a 94 cm TL individual and the largest was a 13.7 m TL individual, with most individuals recorded in the 4–6 m TL size class. Small juveniles of less than 3 m TL are rarely recorded in the literature and appear to be rarely observed globally. Between 2006 and 2011, seven juveniles of less than 3 m TL were recorded from two landing sites. Despite the continued landing of whale sharks along the Indian coasts since 2001, the protection of this species appears to have substantially reduced the catches with only incidental landings and strandings now evident. The protection status of whale sharks in India is generally well understood by fishers, but still there is need for further education regarding the current national legislation and vulnerability of the species.

Keywords

India Whale shark Rhincodon typus Landings Strandings Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. V. Akhilesh
    • 1
  • C. P. R. Shanis
    • 1
  • W. T. White
    • 2
  • H. Manjebrayakath
    • 1
  • K. K. Bineesh
    • 1
  • U. Ganga
    • 1
  • E. M. Abdussamad
    • 1
  • A. Gopalakrishnan
    • 3
  • N. G. K. Pillai
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Marine Fisheries Research InstituteKochiIndia
  2. 2.CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  3. 3.National Bureau of Fish Genetic ResourcesKochiIndia

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