whale shark tagged posts

What are whale sharks up to?

The largest fish in the ocean is a globe-trotter that can occasionally be found basking in the coastal waters of the Panamanian Pacific. However, little more is known about the habits of the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in the region. By satellite-tracking the whereabouts of 30 of them, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life and the University of Panama explored the factors influencing this endangered species’ behavior.

The R. typus, like other large sharks, may take years or even decades to reach maturity and reproduce, making them vulnerable to population declines, especially when combined with human threats...

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Ecotourism transforms attitudes to marine conservation

Tourists diving with whale shark at Oslob, Philippines. Credit: LAMAVE

A study has shown how ecotourism in the Philippines has transformed people’s attitudes towards marine conservation. Researchers from the University of Victoria in Canada and Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE), visited three sites where tourists pay to swim with in the wild. They interviewed a range of locals who work for the tour operators in Oslob, Donsol and Pintuyan, including fishers and ex-whale shark hunters.

In all three locations people said their perception of whale sharks—and of the wider marine environment—had changed positively since the introduction of eco-.

At Oslob, the largest of the three sites, people were more likely to speak about the resulting improvements to their quality of life and an increase in job opportuniti...

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Atomic tests solve age puzzle of world’s largest fish

Data from atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists accurately age the world’s biggest fish. Whale sharks are large, slow moving and docile creatures that mainly inhabit tropical waters. They are long-lived but scientists have struggled to work out the exact ages of these endangered creatures. But using the world’s radioactive legacy they now have a workable method that can help the species survival.

Whale sharks are both the biggest fish and the biggest sharks in existence. Growing up to 18m in length, and weighing on average of about 20 tonnes, their distinctive white spotted colouration makes them easily recognisable. These filter feeders live on plankton and travel long distances to find food.

They are very popular with tourists in many locations, ofte...

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