Kids unlock shark mysteries

Marangaroo Primary School’s Skye Davis, Peter Neakngen, Izabella Kolevski and Daniel Nievelstein at the Whale Shark Race Around the World information session.
Marangaroo Primary School’s Skye Davis, Peter Neakngen, Izabella Kolevski and Daniel Nievelstein at the Whale Shark Race Around the World information session.

Marangaroo, Ocean Reef, Woodvale, North Woodvale, Creaney and Haidon primary schools and Woodvale Secondary College joined nine other schools in the Whale Shark Race Around the World project that started on August 3.

It is the world�s largest science project to involve schools, spanning the greatest distance.

Run by ECOCEAN chief scientist and researcher Brad Norman, the project has schools adopt a whale shark and track its movements around the world via an electronic tagging device for about five weeks.

ECOCEAN aims to solve the mystery of the migration, behaviour and habits of whale sharks, which is vital for the vulnerable species� survival.

Earlier this year, participating students met at the WA Maritime Museum where WA Australian of the Year Lyn Beazley said little was known about how and where whale sharks bred and gave birth.

�Only one pregnant whale shark has ever been sighted and we believe that she had around 300 eggs inside her at the time,� Professor Beazley said.

�We don�t know where they migrate to or how fast they grow � there are so many unknown facts about their lifecycle.�

Marangaroo PS library officer Louise Moore said the project taught students about mapping, scaling and northern WA.

�The students are really enjoying learning about the whale sharks and their environment and how they live and do what they do,� she said.

�Our whale shark went backwards for a little while and it was great hearing all the scenarios the kids were coming up with as to why he would do that.

�It�s really created a lot of interest and community spirit.�

She said the school�s whale shark was currently placed fourth in the race, with Guildford Grammar School leading.