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Feeding the world's largest fish: highly variable whale shark residency patterns at a provisioning site in the Philippines

Thomson, Jordan A., Araujo, Gonzalo, Labaja, Jessica, McCoy, Emer, Murray, Ryan and Ponzo, Alessandro 2017, Feeding the world's largest fish: highly variable whale shark residency patterns at a provisioning site in the Philippines, Royal Society open science, vol. 4, no. 9, pp. 1-15, doi: 10.1098/rsos.170394.

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Title Feeding the world's largest fish: highly variable whale shark residency patterns at a provisioning site in the Philippines
Author(s) Thomson, Jordan A.ORCID iD for Thomson, Jordan A. orcid.org/0000-0003-3751-9490
Araujo, Gonzalo
Labaja, Jessica
McCoy, Emer
Murray, Ryan
Ponzo, Alessandro
Journal name Royal Society open science
Volume number 4
Issue number 9
Article ID 170394
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Publisher The Royal Society
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2017-09
ISSN 2054-5703
Keyword(s) wildlife tourism
supplemental feeding
shark tourism
shark diving
habitat use
elasmobranch
Summary Provisioning wildlife for tourism is a controversial yet widespread practice. We analysed the residency patterns of juvenile whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Oslob, Philippines, where provisioning has facilitated a large shark-watching operation since 2011. We identified 208 individual sharks over three years, with an average of 18.6 (s.d. = 7.8, range = 6–43) individuals sighted per week. Weekly shark abundance varied seasonally and peak-season abundance (approx. May–November) increased across years. Whale sharks displayed diverse individual site visitation patterns ranging from a single visit to sporadic visits, seasonal residency and year-round residency. Nine individuals became year-round residents, which represents a clear response to provisioning. The timing of the seasonal peak at Oslob did not align with known non-provisioned seasonal aggregations elsewhere in the Philippines, which could suggest that seasonal residents at Oslob exploit this food source when prey availability at alternative sites is low. Since prolonged residency equates to less time foraging naturally, provisioning could influence foraging success, alter distributions and lead to dependency in later life stages. Such impacts must be carefully weighed against the benefits of provisioning (i.e. tourism revenue in a remote community) to facilitate informed management decisions.
Language eng
DOI 10.1098/rsos.170394
Field of Research 070401 Aquaculture
070499 Fisheries Sciences not elsewhere classified
070403 Fisheries Management
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2017, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30102836

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.