What are Whale Sharks Up to?
Published:26 Jul.2022    Source:Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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. For instance, they may be caught in fishing nets as bycatch or face the risk of vessel strikes when shipping lanes overlap with their feeding sites. Being able to understand and predict whale shark behavior is a necessary step for protecting the species.