Saturday, November 7, 2009

Whale Shark Facts and Whale Shark Conservation

Whale Shark Information
The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea reaching lengths of up to 12 m (40 ft), that's about the size of a bus. You usually feel their presence before you see them, it's a strange feeling to look up and see a 12m fish swimming above you.

Whale sharks have huge mouths, in fact you could fit a Volkswagen beetle in their mouth - gulp! Fortunately their throats are very small and whale sharks feed on plankton and are of no threat to humans. Diving or snorkeling with whale sharks is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I would encourage everybody who has the opportunity to do so. Holbox, Mexico is famous for its opportunity to swim with whale sharks.  If you would like to dive with whale sharks, the Galapagos is a good choice during "whale shark season".  We saw four in two days!

Whale sharks also have their own sort of finger prints - the spots on their body. Each whale shark has its own unique marking, just like we each have our own unique finger prints. In fact if you can ever are fortunate enough to be up close to a whale shark, you are encouraged to snap a photo and send it to the Whale Shark Project where the data is used in migration studies to gain a better understanding of whale sharks. More Info on whale sharks: Whale Shark Facts

Why Whale Sharks Need Our Help

Whale sharks are hunted for their fins which are used in shark find soup, which is very popular in Asia, especially Hong Kong. Over 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year for their fins.

The photo above is of a whale shark we saw in the Galapagos. The tail should be straight but is damaged - likely because of an accidental run in with a boat motor. Whale sharks are considered to be a threatened species but it is widely agreed that more information is needed before their status can be confirmed.
Whale Shark Conservation
It really is amazing all the actions you can take to save whale sharks, even if you are land locked like I am. Thank you for your work on whale shark conservation!

For information on Hammerhead sharks, Leatherback turtles, Coral reefs