Hawaii whale shark study aims to create better protections

Hawaii whale shark study aims to create better protections
File photo of a whale shark (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - A marine researcher in Hawaii has noticed an increased rate of whale shark encounters around the islands, spurring a research program to document the endangered species that are rarely found in U.S. waters.

In 2016, Maria Harvey came up with a research idea for the Hawaii Uncharted Research Collective, a nonprofit organization that is charting whale sharks around the state to hopefully create better protections for the species, West Hawaii Today reported Friday.

Stacia Goecke, the organization's chief scientist and co-founder, says whale sharks have been overfished around the world, leading to a decline in the overall population.

She says efforts have been made to protect the species, but the population remains in peril in the U.S. and there is little government oversight to ensure their safety.

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