David Gill, assistant professor at the Duke University Marine Lab, normally focuses on his research on marine management and tropical coral reef ecosystems. He was on a research trip when he got the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia. His non-snorkeling research with local partners like the Cenderawasih Bay National Park Office, World Wildlife Fund and University of Papua, seeks to increase the effectiveness and impacts of marine protected areas (MPAs) like this one.
MPAs benefit the flora and fauna within a given zone by restricting human activity for conservation purposes. Cenderawasih Bay National Park, where these whale sharks were spotted, is Indonesia’s largest marine national park covering over 5611 square miles and is managed under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia. This MPA is part of Bird’s Head Seascape, known as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity with 26 marine protected areas, protecting over 20,192 square miles.
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