East African Whale Shark
Focus: Shark Conservation and Marine biology.
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The East African Whale Shark Trust is a grass roots project dedicated to marine conservation in general and whale shark conservation in particular. Based on Diani beach the EAWST was founded in response to the increase in the whale shark population along the Kenyan coast as well as increased interest from the tourist sector.
Peak season for whale shark sightings is in February/March. The increase in the number of whale sharks along the Kenyan coast has meant they have become a target. All that is required by international law is that whale shark trade be monitored. The EAWST provides a research centre for collecting and analysing data on the local whale shark population, its habits and movements.
The Trust works with other regional organisations, the long term goal being to increase protection and promote the conservation of the biggest fish in the ocean. The Trust runs yearly tagging expeditions during the peak whale shark season where members of the public are invited to come and watch the expedition team at work. This is the most exciting aspect of our work.
Less glamorous but just as important is our community work in local schools and hotels, awareness presentations for school children and tourists and office based work such as internet campaigns.
Costs & Benefits
Currently the project has a very flexible volunteer programme and volunteers are free to work as much or as little as they like. There is no set programme.
During the whale shark season volunteers will assist with whale shark expeditions. This involves going out on the boat and helping clients enjoy their whale shark experience.
During the non-whale shark season volunteers can expect to run awareness presentations in the local schools and hotels. They will be expected to explore new aspects to the awareness programme and take the initiative with new ideas and contacts.
Volunteers need to be happy to work alone and as part of a team. During their free times volunteers are encouraged to enjoy all that Diani beach has to offer in terms of safaris and water sports.
It costs Euro750 per month to volunteer. This covers accommodation and a contribution to the project. Food, transport and diving are all extra. Shorter and longer stays welcome.
Volunteers need to be over 18, independent and self-motivated. English is useful but not essential.
East African Whale Shark Trust
PO Box 933 Ukunda 80400
Location: Ukunda, Kenya
Average cost per day: 25 Euros
Focus: Shark Conservation
Skills needed: Volunteers need to be over 18, independent and self-motivated. English is useful but not essential.