Lately I’ve been wondering what is the biggest fish in the ocean. And you know what? If you ask around, just about everybody will tell you it’s this creature called the whale shark. LINKS………………………………………... WANT TO SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS LIKE I DID WITH THE SCIENTISTS WHO STUDY THEM? VISIT ACUA-FIRMA WEBSITE http://www.aqua-firma.co.uk/home.php LINKS TO DR. SIMON PIERCE www.simonjpierce.com www.marinemegafauna.org LINKS TO RAFAEL DE LA PARRA http://www.bluerealmproject.org/ ………………………………………………………………………………. But what the heck is a whale shark? Is it a whale or is a shark? And exactly how big is it? Is it a man eater? I really don’t know… So I’ve decided to come here to Mexico, where every summer they have one of the biggest whale shark gatherings in the world! Today I’m boarding an actual research boat headed out to do a survey of the whale sharks. My hosts are two world renowned marine biologists. Dr. Simon Pierce and Rafael De La Parra. They have both dedicated years to learning about these ocean giants. There are some other tourists like me on the boat. And like me they help pay for the cost of the research. In exchange, we get to tag along with the scientists as they survey and document the whale sharks… All I can say is 'holy moly.' These things are like a bus going by you underwater… It’s pretty scary at first, but they don’t seem interested in us for lunch or anything like that. The whale sharks look like they are going really slow… but it’s hard work to keep up. The way it moved reminded me of my original question about these things whether whale sharks are whales or sharks. Simon makes it clear. They are sharks, making them the biggest fish in the world. The largest whale shark ever was measured at 20 Meters / 60 Feet and weighed 32 Tons / 30,844 Kilos. Simon and Rafael take lots of pictures of the whale sharks to help them identify the individual whale sharks. They also tag them with satellite communications equipment to track their movements. Whale sharks have very thick skin and that helps the scientists take skin samples without causing any pain and injury. From these skin samples they can tell what the whale shark eats and if they are being affected by pollution. They can also examine the DNA of the fish. Whale sharks are so big they don’t have any serious predators, but they are considered a vulnerable species. According to Rafael and Simon, the two things that threaten them the most is fishing and big cargo ships… Chinese fishermen are estimated to kill over 600 whale sharks per year. India had to stop fishing for Whale Sharks after wiping them out in the Northern India Ocean, The problem with cargo ships are that they use a major shipping lane in Mexico that goes right through where the sharks feed. This results in collisions that kill or seriously injure many of the sharks. An effort spearheaded by Rafael has convinced the Mexican Government to approve the placement of a maritime bouy where the whale sharks congregate. In the future ships will be legally required to go around the sharks. There is also a plan to use their data to get this area declared a world heritage site which will offer the whale sharks greater protection.
Duration: 5m 42s