Love The Whale Shark
This 23-year-old male is the largest and gentlest giant in the ocean. Travelling around by himself, he is always on the lookout for some tasty plankton to filter through his great big mouth. But he must be careful. Being so docile, he is a target. He can’t understand why someone who lives on the land would want his fins, they’re only good for swimming!
There is a lot that isn't known about whale sharks. The biggest fish in the sea, they travel great distances alone, only coming together to mate. It is known that they are ovoviviparous - the female lays eggs but they develop inside her, giving birth to live young. This has never been seen in the wild. It's also unknown how many young they give birth to at a time, but it could be a lot! In the '90s a female was found with around 300 foetuses inside her! They wouldn't be born all at the same time though. Instead, the female can store the sperm of a male until she needs it for fertilization, much like a Queen bee. Pretty cool!
These sharks are massive. Because so little is still known, it is not known exactly how big they can grow to. But they could be as large as 20m in length. They set themselves apart from other sharks with their beautiful spots (as unique as your fingerprint) and their huge gaping mouths which they use to filter feed plankton. They are breathtaking to behold.
Not only are they beautiful, but they are also very docile, known for letting swimmers hitch a ride on their back. This has led to a huge boom in whale shark tourism. This can be a wonderful moment, but just like any tourism involving wildlife, you must be careful who you go with. If done badly it can disrupt the whale sharks feeding patterns and put them at risk of being injured by the propellers of boats. Some companies try to keep the sharks in the bay using nets which can be very disruptive for the sharks.
They are also often hunted for their meat and fins. The fin is used in soups and is thought to be an aphrodisiac. These sharks are low in number and slow to reproduce. If they are hunted, they may not be able to bounce back.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES