Since 2016 I lead the Madagascar Whale Shark Project, now a registered foundation since 2018. My role is varied and requires me to interact with a range of partners through the year, while working efficiently both remotely and from the field in Madagascar. Every year I prepare and lead the field season, which takes place from September to December. The rest of the year I focus on fundraising, data processing and administrative work.
The project focuses on three key aspects, which I oversee:
Environmental education for all
To empower local youth in Nosy Be, I have initiated an education program that focuses on developing environmental awareness and generate ocean ambassadors. Through a school program and a community program, I wish to change perceptions about ocean giants and how we can protect them.
Collecting scientific data
From September to December my team collects population, behavioural and ecological data on whale sharks while free diving from tourism boats. We also take skin samples and deploy tags. I monitor, process and analyse the data, which is then published in peer-reviewed journals.
By sharing our work with governing bodies in Madagascar and beyond, I thrive to support management efforts in order to better protect whale sharks. I deliver workshops for guides in the tourism sector locally, while sharing our data with other organisations who act at the national level.
Here are my peer-reviewed publications, more coming soon!
MOVEMENTS AND HABITAT USE OF SATELLITE-TAGGED
WHALE SHARKS OFF WESTERN MADAGASCAR (2018)
Stella Diamant, Christoph A. Rohner, Jeremy J. Kiszka, Arthur Guillemain d’Echon, Tanguy Guillemain d’Echon, Elina Sourisseau & Simon J. Pierce
This is our first paper on whale sharks in Madagascar, where we describe the importance of the Nosy Be site following satellite tagging in 2016.
ECONOMIC VALUE AND PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF
WHALE SHARK TOURISM IN NOSY BE, MADAGASCAR (2021)
Jackie A. Ziegler, Stella Diamant, Simon J. Pierce, Rhett Bennett and Jeremy J. Kiszka
This paper focusses on socio-economic evaluation of whale shark tourism in Madagascar
REGIONAL VARIATION IN ANTHROPOGENIC THREATS TO INDIAN OCEAN WHALE SHARKS (2021)
Samantha D. Reynolds, Bradley M. Norman, Craig E. Franklin, Steffen S. Bach, Francesco G. Comezzi, Stella Diamant, Mohammed Y. Jaidah, Simon J. Pierce, Anthony J. Richardson, David P. Robinson, Christoph A. Rohner and Ross G. Dwyer
This paper is a collaboration, where we provided data from satellite tagged whale sharks in Madagascar, to study the differences in anthropogenic threats across the Indian Ocean
POPULATION STRUCTURE, RESIDENCY, AND ABUNDANCE OF WHALE
SHARKS IN THE COASTAL WATERS OFF NOSY BE, NORTH-WESTERN
Stella Diamant, Simon J. Pierce, Christoph A. Rohner, Rachel T. Graham, Arthur Guillemain d'Echon, Tanguy Guillemain d'Echon, Elina Sourisseau, Léonce Costika Fidiarisandratra, Gisèle Bakary, Sylvia Trélanche, Fanja Andriananrisoa and Jeremy J. Kiszka
This paper summarises our photo-identification efforts over the last five years.
GLOBAL COLLISION-RISK HOTSPOTS OF MARINE TRAFFIC AND THE WORLD’S
LARGEST FISH, THE WHALE SHARK (2022)
Freya C. Womersley, Nicolas E. Humphries, Nuno Queiroz, Marisa Vedor, Ivo da Costa, Miguel Furtado, John P. Tyminski, Katya Abrantes, Gonzalo Araujo, Steffen S. Bach, Adam Barnett, Michael L. Berumen, Sandra Bessudo Lion, Camrin D. Braun, Elizabeth Clingham, Jesse E. M. Cochran, Rafael de la Parra, Stella Diamant, Alistair D. M. Dove, Christine L. Dudgeon, Mark V. Erdmann, Eduardo Espinoza, Richard Fitzpatrick, Jaime González Cano, Jonathan R. Green, Hector M. Guzman, Royale Hardenstine, Abdi Hasan, Fábio H. V. Hazin, Alex R. Hearn, Robert E. Hueter, Mohammed Y. Jaidah, Jessica Labaja, Felipe Ladino, Bruno C. L. Macena , John J. Morris Jr., Bradley M. Norman, Cesar Peñaherrera-Palma, Simon J. Pierce, Lina M. Quintero, Dení Ramírez-Macías, Samantha D. Reynolds, Anthony J. Richardson, David P. Robinson, Christoph A. Rohner, David R. L. Rowat, Marcus Sheaves, Mahmood S. Shivji, Abraham B. Sianipar, Gregory B. Skomal, German Soler, Ismail Syakurachman, Simon R. Thorrold, D. Harry Webb, Bradley M. Wetherbee, Timothy D. White, Tyler Clavelle, David A. Kroodsma, Michele Thums, Luciana C. Ferreira, Mark G. Meekan, Lucy M. Arrowsmith, Emily K. Lester, Megan M. Meyers, Lauren R. Peel, Ana M. M. Sequeira, Victor M. Eguíluz, Carlos M. Duarte and David W. Sims
This global collaborative papers uses data from satellite-tagged whale sharks across the world to study overlap with cargo ships.
IMPROVING SIGHTINGS-DERIVED RESIDENCY ESTIMATION FOR WHALE SHARK AGGREGATIONS: A NOVEL METRIC APPLIED TO A GLOBAL DATA SET (2022)
Araujo G, Agustines A, Bach SS, Cochran JEM, Parra-Galvan Edl, Parra-Venegas Rdl, Diamant S, Dove A, Fox S, Graham RT, Green SM, Green JR, Hardenstine RS, Hearn A, Himawan MR, Hobbs R, Holmberg J, Shameel I, Jaidah MY, Labaja J, Leblond S, Legaspi CG, Maguiño R, Magson K, Marcoux SD, Marcoux TM, Marley SA, Matalobos M, Mendoza A, Miranda JA, Norman BM, Perry CT, Pierce SJ, Ponzo A, Prebble CEM, Ramirez-Macias D, Rees R, Reeve-Arnold KE, Reynolds SD, Robinson DP, Rohner CA, Rowat D, Snow S, Vazquez-Haikin A and Watts AM
A new collaborative global paper using data from 25 whale shark 'constellations' describes the use of a novel metric to understand residency patterns of this Endangered species.
In 2016 I worked as Operation Wallacea's Camp Manager in remote Mancolona village, Mexico to ensure scientific teams and students could achieve their goals as planned. As a result the data is used to support conservation initiatives in the Calakmul UNESCO biosphere reserve in-country.
In 2014 I joined to support the team on various tasks. A year later I coordinated the Mega Expedition, the largest plastic collection event across the North Pacific Garbage Patch. Thanks to the combined efforts of 35 boats, we could collect scientific data on floating plastic. I joined the expedition and crossed the North Pacific in August 2015.
In 2013 I spent half a year in Namibia with the Zoological Society of London to assist with data collection on wild Chacma baboons. I specifically focused on the use of social information, and how baboons use information from other individuals to feed.
In 2011 I volunteered for WWF in a remote Vezo village, with the purpose to raise awareness about coral reefs amongst fishermen communities. We also focused on the development of sustainable tourism and alternative livelihoods.