Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark.

Despite its massive size, it feeds mostly on plankton. The distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans, which we heavily depend on. Read on to discover more.

The whale shark is the largest shark and indeed the largest of any fish alive today. While the maximum size of this species is not known, they can reach the length of a school bus!

These gentle marine giants roam across the tropical oceans of the world, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food—making them prime tourist attractions. Because whale sharks feed on plankton, they will travel large distances to find enough food to sustain their huge size, and to reproduce.

Their white spotted colouration makes these gentle giants easy to distinguish, and are popular with snorkelers and divers at sites where they gather off the coast.

However, the whale shark is facing big challenges today. 

These majestic creatures, which are an IUCN endangered species, are at risk from being caught as bycatch and struck by ships, and are still hunted in some parts of the world for their fins and meat.

Poorly managed whale shark tourism also presents a threat to the species as it may interrupt their feeding and sharks can be injured by boat propellers, highlighting the importance of responsible tourism practices.

To secure the future of this species and safeguard the health of our oceans, WWF is working to protect whale sharks.

WWF experts continue to study shark habits and gather information in the Coral Triangle on individual sharks by using satellite tags, sonar devices, and digital cameras to create further protection for whale sharks. In addition, we support whale shark studies to learn more about the population, their habitat use and migratory pathways in the waters surrounding Mafia Island, Coastal East Africa.

As the world celebrates Whale Shark Day on 30th August, discover how you too can play a part for nature and whale sharks.

How you can help

Whale Shark video

The whale shark is the biggest fish and shark in the world. These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food.

Discover more about WWF’s work

Our mission is to stop the degradation of our planet’s natural environment, and build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. Find out how we aim to achieve this through our nine global goals.
WWF’s work

It’s now an inescapable reality: climate change is here.

This is a turning point, but there’s still time to act. In a month’s time, people in Australia and around the world will demand a Fossil Free future. On every continent we will stand together and say — enough is enough.
As temperatures rise, so do we.

Support #RiseForClimate on September 8. 

350.org has  just released a video on climate impacts people are facing around the world right now. Watch and SHARE it and let’s get people making the links between rising temperatures and extreme weather, climate change, and what they can do.

Share the #RiseForClimate video on Facebook.

The extreme heat experienced around the world over the past few weeks has broken untold records. Lives have been tragically lost in heat waves in Japan and wildfires in Greece1, 2, whilst Ouargla in North Africa reached a staggering 51.3C and unprecedented fires have burned across the Arctic circle3, 4. California has experience the world’s hottest rain ever recorded and is in the grip of the largest and most expensive wildfire the state has ever seen.5, 6

In Australia, we continue to see the devastating impacts of drought and its impact on our farmers and their livestock. Malcolm Turnbull has finally admitted this drought is linked to climate change… even if he’s not going to do anything about it.

But we are. We’re going to Rise and demand more from local leaders all over the world.

Will YOU Rise with us? 

Your support will help us achieve over 30 actions and events around Australia on September 8 calling on decision-makers locally for commitments on climate change.

Here is just  some of what is in store:

  • In Sydney, people will sail through the harbour and call for climate action;
  • In Canberra, a rally with a dinosaur theme demanding the federal government stop putting the ‘coal’ in COALition;
  • In Brisbane the Pacific Island community will hold a festival calling on the Brisbane City Council to divest from fossil fuels and move to #StopAdani;
  • Darwin will focus on the threat of fracking in the Northern Territory;
  • And in Coffs Harbour, watch for the “Big Sun” symbolising a 100% renewables future in front of the Big Banana.

There will be many more!

Climate scientists have been taken aback by the severity of the heatwave we’ve seen these past weeks, but “hothouse earth” is not our destiny – if we act now.7

Bold action on climate change couldn’t be more urgent. But whilst we’re starting to see a shift in climate leadership from national governments — like the Irish government divesting from fossil fuels last month8, the pace is painfully slow.

So that’s why 350 is working with organisations around the world to call on local decision-makers everywhere  to take a lead in building the Fossil Free future we need. Local leaders can do their part to keep fossil fuels in the ground, demand an end to new coal, oil and gas projects like Adani and build a just, 100% renewably-powered future.

They can, and they have to.

Together, let’s Rise for Climate Action!

In solidarity,

Andrew, for the 350 Australia team

References:

1) Japan heatwave: Death toll climbs to 80

2) Extreme heat, wildfires and the cost of climate change

3) It Was Absurdly Hot in North Africa Yesterday

4) There Are Wildfires Burning in the Arctic Circle Amid Sweden’s Record-Breaking Heat Wave

5) Largest wildfire in California history to burn for rest of August

6) World’s hottest rain fell in California, setting new record

7) Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something.

8) Irish parliament makes history with vote to divest country fully from fossil fuels

Captivating footage of the the release of a whale entrapped in netting

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This is a wonderful video well worth watching!

Who’s looking out for the Ugly stuff? We are!

Some of Australia’s (no Earth’s) biggest celebs have come to the party to help the Wilderness Society spark a conversation about biodiversity.

Biodiversity — isn’t that boring?

No way! Especially when it’s sung by Rosario Dawson in a bug suit, with a cast of critters voiced by Cate Blanchett, Joel Edgerton, Claudia O’Doherty and more. So many wonderful people have given their time to make this music video happen, Diane. We want you to be first to see it.

Save Ugly is aimed squarely at the mainstream. We want all Australians to think about the intact ecosystems that make our living world go round — the very ecosystems Wilderness Society supporters like you have spent 40 years battling for.

We think you’ll agree, Diane, the story’s never been told quite like this before.

The creatures in this video are connected to work we do every day. Look out for the Mary River Turtle, whose habitat we played a role in saving from a proposed dam. And the South-Eastern Long-Eared Bat, which faces likely extinction if gas expansion goes ahead in the Pilliga.

Please watch the video and share it with all who’ll appreciate it. You can help spread the word.

Regards,
Team Ugly
The Wilderness Society

New studies show the wildly disproportionate effect humans have had on life on Earth.

Our planet’s 7.6 billion humans represent just 0.01 per cent of all living things, but that one species has caused the loss of 83 per cent of all wild mammals and half of plants, according to research from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The work was based on comprehensive estimates of the weight of every class of living creature.

Researchers calculated biomass using data from hundreds of studies, which used a range of techniques including satellite imagery and gene sequencing.

They assessed the biomass of different classes of organisms and mapped them against environments that such life could live in across the world.

Using carbon as the key measure, they found all life on Earth contains 550 billion tonnes of the element.

The analysts say bacteria make up 13 per cent of life on Earth, while plants represent 82 per cent That leaves all other creatures from insects and fungi to the largest quadrupeds, making up just 5 per cent of the world’s biomass.

“I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass,” said lead author Professor Ron Milo.

“I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth.”

Human activity has had such a profound, system-wide effect that some scientists consider this a new geological era – the Anthropocene.

The rise of corollary species such as the domestic chicken is considered one marker of the new era.

The study in question estimates poultry now makes up 70 per cent of all birds on the planet, leaving just 30 per cent in the wild.

Around 60 per cent of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36 per cent are human and 4 per cent are wild animals.

“It is pretty staggering,” said Prof Milo.

“In wildlife films, we see flocks of birds, of every kind, in vast amounts, and then when we did the analysis we found there are [far] more domesticated birds.

“It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth.

“When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken.”

When the new estimates are compared with those for the time before humans became farmers, the study shows just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain today.

“Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms,” Prof Milo said.

“I would hope people would take this [work] as part of their world view of how they consume.

“I have not become vegetarian, but I do take the environmental impact into my decision making, so it helps me think, do I want to choose beef or poultry or use tofu instead?”