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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

David Robinson


David's project: The ecology of whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman

Global whale shark populations are thought to currently be in decline due to anthropogenic factors. The whale shark was therefore listed as vulnerable to extinction and was placed on Appendix II of CITES in 2004. Globally, little is known about the whale shark, however, there has been no previous research on whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf or Gulf of Oman.

This research project was started in 2010 in an attempt to investigate the ecology of whale sharks within the region and to reveal the importance of Arabia's whale shark populations and place this in a global perspective. Fieldwork is carried out in the summer months and includes: satellite and acoustic tagging of the sharks to learn about their movements, genetic and stable isotope analysis of tissue samples, environmental data collection and plankton sampling, photogrammetric sizing and spot pattern identification to recognize individuals within the populations. The project also encompasses a citizen science reporting scheme called 'Sharkwatch Arabia', where the public can report sightings and encounters in an attempt to learn about occurrence and threats outside of known hotspots.


Prof. Rupert Ormond, CMBB, Heriot-Watt University

Prof. Hamish Mair, CMBB, Heriot-Watt University


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School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS