A SHARK expert who studies the world's largest fish for the University of York was showing her work to leading natural scientists today.

Rachel Graham, who has been watching whale sharks on the south Belize barrier reef, is exhibiting her work at an annual scientific lecture.

The Darwin Initiative, which funds Rachel's work with a £129,000 grant, is holding its fifth event in London, chaired by the Government's Minister of Biodiversity.

Rachel was showing how she tracked the huge sharks to learn about their behaviour and migration patterns.

Her project developed a scheme which encourages fishermen to protect the sharks rather than fish the diminishing snapper stock on which they feed.

Rachel said: "Studying the whale sharks of Belize is giving us new insights into the behaviour of this beautiful, but little-understood, creature.

"It is also helping Belize to protect the species, while local people benefit from the revenue that whale shark watching tours provide."

Updated: 10:58 Wednesday, May 21, 2003