Whale Shark Populations Probably Flow Together

Little is known about the world’s largest (known) species of fish, the whale shark. Researchers from several universities and institutes recently released a paper defining the genetic variability for the species across several ocean systems. Using microsatellite markers for a handful of locations, the authors came to an important conclusion: there is little variation between the three major populations of whale sharks in the Indian, Caribbean, and Pacific oceans. Or, put in another way, whale sharks in our oceans might all be part of one large interbreeding population. Its still unknown where and when spawning events occur, although several “aggregations” of numerous whale sharks have been reported as potential breeding activity.

This finding is especially important for their future conservation. When species live, breed, and migrate between and across human-drawn lines of control in our oceans they become exceedingly complex animals to conserve and protect.

As an aside: PLOS One answered my prayers by starting a new RSS feed for Marine and Aquatic Sciences that debuted with this new article on whale sharks. Put it in your feedreader and enjoy the new research! Also be sure to check out the notes on female philopatry in shark species in this article as well. I had never before seen this discussed and the striking examples given especially for blacktip sharks was rather intriguing.

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One Comment to “Whale Shark Populations Probably Flow Together”

  1. that is the prettiest shark ever. They are such fascinating creatures. Not to mention ginoirmous.