8. An endangered species
Although whale sharks are critically endangered, as more people become aware of their importance in the ocean’s ecosystem, they’ve become protected by those who once hunted them. Numbers are starting to creep upwards, but they are still in extreme risk, and there is no indication as to what climate change and the warming of the oceans could do to their numbers in the future. Currently, they’re listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘Red List’, indicating that they are still extremely vulnerable.
Conservation tourism has become a real lifeline for whale sharks, and as interest has increased businesses now offer tourists the chance to have an encounter of their own. It’s important, though, that the experience is done on the whale shark’s terms, so that these majestic creatures are not disturbed or stressed in any way.