Posted by: giantfish | June 26, 2008

New whale shark paper

Are the biggest fish getting smaller?

A new paper on the whale shark population at Ningaloo Reef in Australia has just been published online. The study uses over 10 years worth of sighting to show a decline of almost two metres in the average length of the sharks using the area and a concurrent decline in the number of sightings. Scary stuff. The researchers suggest that overfishing is the most likely cause of these rapid changes in population composition.

See also a recent interview with Dr Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science about this paper.

Posted by: giantfish | June 26, 2008

Cownose rays!

… are pretty, erm, pretty. Check out these amazing photo’s of the huge schools of cownose rays migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted by: giantfish | June 22, 2008

sharkGrid

From the clever folk who brought you the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Database:

The newest innovation in ‘citizen science’ is the sharkGrid. This web-based system borrows your computer’s spare processing capacity to match digitised whale shark spot patterns – allowing whale shark sightings from all over the world to be analysed and mapped. In short: the longer lunch break you take, the more you help whale shark science. Do it for the fish.

Proving the effectiveness of the ECOCEAN system, we had another match returned today of a South African whale shark, MZ-022. This four metre shark was first photographed at Sodwana Bay by Rob and Sam Bester of Whale Shark Watch in January 2007 and re-sighted in Tofo two months later by Chris Williams from Quest Underseas. Very cool!

Posted by: giantfish | June 22, 2008

U/W movies

Thanks to Jason Holmberg and the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Forum for pointing this out:

The first ever underwater footage of a whale shark (and manta rays!) is available online here. It’s amazing to note that, 56 years later, leopard-print speedo’s are still the pinnacle of fashion. In contrast, harpooning manta rays has gone right out of style…

Posted by: giantfish | June 21, 2008

“This secret life of the whale shark, the world’s biggest fish, was recently disclosed in a scientific world-first by two Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, Brad Norman, of Australia’s Murdoch University, and Professor Rory Wilson, of Swansea University, in the United Kingdom.”

Read the full article here.

Posted by: giantfish | June 21, 2008

And, in the ‘places I’d rather be’ file:

Whale shark video produced by Rob Bester from Whale Shark Watch:

Posted by: giantfish | June 20, 2008

Leaving the nest!

We’ve been uploading all of our whale shark identification photographs to the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Database in the hope that somewhere, sometime, they’d pop up in another country – or vice-versa.

Well, one of them finally has!!!

MZ-301, affectionately named as \'Spot\'

MZ-301 was first photographed at Sodwana Bay by the Whale Shark Watch team, Rob and Sam Bester, back in February 2007. Andy Currey took this photo of MZ-301, a seven metre male, four months later at Tofo.

Okay, so geographically South Africa is pretty much next-door. However, a 500 km swim is nothing to sniff at. As desperate science students tend to repeat dogmatically, no result is still a result. In fact, the lack of resightings from further afield (with over 300 Mozambican sharks in the database) is rather intriguing. Given that Tofo’s waters resemble a seafood buffet much of the time, perhaps they don’t need to stray?

Anyway, all this is an excellent excuse to go diving at Sodwana Bay sometime in the not-too-distant future, so we’re pretty happy about that. Sodwana Bay is just south of the Mozambique border and Ponta do Oura, from where we’ve also had a couple of recent resightings of Tofo sharks thanks to Angie Gullan from Dolphin Encountours.

Here’s hoping they swim to the Maldives next…

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