Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Two Male Whale Sharks
Facility partners with Taiwan for whale shark conservation, public education
Atlanta (June 4, 2007) – As part of its continuing efforts to promote aquatic conservation, the Georgia Aquarium welcomed two new whale sharks to their Ocean Voyager exhibit today. The whale sharks, both males, were given the Taiwanese names Yushan (pronounced U-Seeyan) and Taroko, to honor their country of origin. Yushan means ‘the jade mountain’ and is the name of a national park in Taiwan. Taroko means ‘the magnificent and splendid’ and is the landmark gorge of the Taroko National Park. “While the Georgia Aquarium has become one of Atlanta’s most popular travel destinations, with more than five million visitors over the last 18 months, conservation remains one of our main goals,” said Jeff Swanagan, president and executive director, the Georgia Aquarium. “We are thrilled to expand the Aquarium’s commitment to research and education by bringing Yushan and Taroko to our facility and we hope to continue making a positive difference in the health and well-being of aquatic life.” Yushan, 13 feet 7 inches long, and Taroko, 15 feet 4 inches long, were flown more than 8,000 miles on a specially configured B747 freighter aircraft from Taipei, Taiwan, through Anchorage, Alaska, to Atlanta. Both whale sharks were under the care and supervision of Georgia Aquarium professional staff and maintained by a highly advanced marine life support system. Yushan and Taroko are the latest in the Georgia Aquarium’s 4R Program (Rehabilitation, Relocation, Rescue and Research), a strategy designed to make a positive difference in the health and well-being of aquatic life from around the world. “The Georgia Aquarium is advancing scientific understanding of whale sharks by combining field research with in-house study through our 4R Program,” Swanagan added. “We will release results later this summer from research conducted in Mexico and Taiwan which we hope will help the world gain a better understanding of the migration patterns and feeding habits of whale sharks in their native habitats.” The Georgia Aquarium is the first facility of its kind outside of Asia to house whale sharks. The Aquarium partnered with Taiwan to bring all their whale sharks – Yushan, Taroko, Norton, Alice and Trixie – to the facility’s Ocean Voyager exhibit, a habitat specially designed to house up to six full grown whale sharks. Through their partnership, the Georgia Aquarium, the government of Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta are taking steps toward long-term management of the worldwide whale shark population. Taiwan reduced their whale shark fishing quota from 60 in 2006 to 30 in 2007 and will move to zero in 2008, showing the country’s commitment to fishery conservation. The Georgia Aquarium hopes such positive practices will encourage other countries to adopt sustainable seafood practices and educate the public on the subject of aquatic conservation. For additional information on whale sharks and the Georgia Aquarium’s conservation and education programs, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/conservation/whalesharkprogram.aspx.
About the Georgia Aquarium The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.