Whale shark tagging on a grand scale

Mission William

Mission William is an international scientific project to understand movement patterns of whale sharks in the southeast Atlantic, and to create marine protected areas and safe corridors between the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and St. Helena by 2030.

Mission William is a multinational collaborative project between five countries, more than seven institutions and ten specialized scientists.

The region in and around the Gulf of Guinea to St. Helena is very affected by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. At the same time, there is tremendous biodiversity in this area. In order to preserve this, the riparian states plan to implement a marine protected area between Sao Tome and St. Helena by 2030 at the latest, with scientific support.

Whale sharks are found seasonally in large numbers in this area. IUU does not stop at whale sharks and threatens them not only in this region, but also on their migratory routes, which can lead as far as across the Atlantic, as analysis of a satellite TAG has shown.

After the project presentation by the project leader Hugues de Kerdrel, Sharkproject agreed to support the mission William in the form of TAGs and technical equipment. The decision to support the project was made very easy for us: the research on whale shark occurrences in the region, their movement patterns and the prospect of a sanctuary where whale sharks will be protected during their stay in the future are more than enough reasons. Hugues de Kerdrel is chairman of the association Over the Swell - Association for the Protection of the Oceans.

Background information about the project

Project goals

  • Research on whale shark occurrence in the region
  • Research into the movement patterns of whale sharks
  • Establishment of a marine protected area in the region
  • Establishment of safe corridors beyond


  • Association Over the Swell - Association for the Protection of the Oceans


Gulf of Guinea (GoG) up to St. Helena

Project duration

After our commitment in May 2023, tagging was already started in August. It is our goal to enforce the marine protected area by 2030 at the latest, based on scientific findings.


  • Hugues de Kerdrel – Over The Swell – oceanographic missions entrepreneur
  • Jorge Moreno – Mission William – scientific project coordiantor
  • Dr.Simon Thorrold –WoodsHole Oceanographic Institution– Biology Department – Tag specialist and coordinator
  • Leila Sayigh – Woods Hole Ocenaographic Institution – Accoustic specialist
  • Kenickie Andrerws – Saint Helena National Trust – Trust Marine Team –Marine Project Manager
  • Alessandro Bocconcelli – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - Co-Investigator
  • Rebecca Cairns- Wicks – St Helena Research Institute – Coordinator and contributor
  • Serafin Dedi Nadje – FCWC Ghana – Head of Mission for Gulf of Guinea – Coordinator
  • Helena Benett- National Trust SH- Senior scientist and coordiantor- Contributor


  • Dr. Judith Brown – Blue Marine Foundation- Senior International Manager – Contibutor
  • Jorge de Carvalho - ONG MARAPA STP – Président
  • Elisio de Espirito Santo – ONG MARAPA – STP – Biologiste
  • Marin - Estrela Matilde – Fundacao Principe – Executive and cooridantor for Sao Tome and Principe
  • Sara Vieira – Programa Tato – Executive and coordinator for Sao Tome and Principe
  • Hugulay Maia– Universidade Sao Tome e Principe – Profesor and scientist – Contributor and coordinator
  • Marie France Roche – Présidente -Un Enfant Un Avenir Manuela Costeira – Directora Géral – Escuela Portuguesa STP
  • Laurent Apollon – Co-Founder of Wind Support- Coordinator & Logistics USA

Project history

August 2023 - Start Tagging

2020: after recognizing the dwindling population of catsharks, contact is made with the Pula Aquarium

Background of the project name

The project name "Mission William" has a tragic background: Hugues de Kerdrel met a 13 year old palliative care boy named William. William had developed a very strong passion for all marine animals and especially for whale sharks. In June 2021, Hugues promised young William that he would name a whale shark after him. William passed away in January 2023, but his passion for whale sharks and all marine life lives on and drives to pass on healthy oceans to the next generations.

We'll keep you posted on Mission William and would love for you to support Sharkproject with donations so that we can continue to work on important projects like this. Pushing for new marine protected areas is a vital step in maintaining the balance in the oceans and preserving shark populations for a future of generations to come.