“The Gentle Giants” Whale Sharks in Cenderawasih Bay Marine National Park Papua

A flock of giant fish, whale shark (Rhincodon typus) often manifest themselves in surface around the Cenderwasih Bay Marine National Park and Conservation Area, swimming in a houseboat (bagan) where fishermen catch fish are found along the waters of Kwatisore, Nabire regency, Papua.

The whale shark (hiu paus, the locals call it “gurano star”) including water animals that are only found in the waters of Papua, also a little bit in the Philippines, Australia, and South Africa. This whale shark is often also seen on the island of Sabang and the Madura Strait, but not throughout the year. They migrate to find a place to eat and lay eggs.

This marine mammals animals are considered as prehistoric animals since 60 million years ago, lived to age 150 years and longer reach 15 meters, even the observation of the University of Queensland, the size of whale sharks may actually be even greater reach 20 meters.

Sharks are considered stupid fish by the locals, because it is very benign, not aggressive, just eat small fish, puri fish and plankton castle, so that in the past often been arrested population or whale fisheries.

A friend who was there told, over the years since the end of 2000, he saw the fish swim in groups of about 9-12 tail approaching the dock when people swimming there, the fish with a length of about 20 meters is very docile, willing approached and held while swimming at his side. They are looking to eat small fish, like anchovies or small shrimp other than plankton.

Once an Australian tourist rowing the wooden canoe was approached by the whale shark and the fish scratching its body into the canoe, the tourists are surprised, fish was hitting with sticks, then the fish reverse the boat, hahaha...

Currently, many development activities around the beach, the noise from the beach, making them move away and began to rarely seen. We must protect the benign giant fish, they do not harm humans, isn’t it?

Of course, many environmentalists and marine organizations concerned, such as WWF Indonesia in cooperation with the Center for Cenderawasih Bay National Park (Balai Besar Taman Nasional Teluk Cendrawasih - TNTC) socialize protection with a variety of events, such as "Whale Shark Monitoring Workshop" in Nabire on past May 2011, because the reproduction of this fish is relatively slow compared with other fish.

These animals reach reproductive age at the age of 30 years, recent TNTC data in 2011 reported that there were about 40 whale sharks in the waters of Cenderawasih Bay. It is desirable then that this marine animal protection, because the population is diminishing. Local governments recognize this and develop the area into an ocean tourist destination.

As a tourist destination the region has the beauty of the ocean underwater adventure as an arena for diving, snorkeling, exploring the ocean and the bay by speedboat, water skiing, trekking and camping around the island of Biak Numfor, Paniai and Supiori.

Development of underwater tours also involve the local population, they are very aware of human and nature protect each other and avoid these gentle giants fish ‘whale shark’ from extinction.

The best time to reach the location Cenderawasih Bay Marine National Park is about May to October (when the waters and waves around the bay is relatively calm), from Jakarta or Jayapura by plane directly to Manokwari or Nabire by motor boat to the island of Rumberpon or car driving to the district of Ransiki.

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(Various sources from friends, Kompas and WWF Indonesia /Images CC, Robby M. and WWF Indonesia)


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