2023 CE • Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific Ocean
"The whale shark is the biggest fish and shark in the world. These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food—making them prime tourist attractions." While whale sharks populations are widely distributed in the world's oceans, the waters surrounding Africa are home to major feeding grounds for the iconic species, specifically Southern Mozambique, which is considered the Whale shark capital of the world. "The distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans . . . Whale sharks are highly valued on international markets. Demand for their meat, fins and oil remains a threat to the species, particularly by unregulated fisheries. They are victims of bycatch, the accidental capture of non-target species in fishing gear. And whale shark tourism presents a threat to the species as it can interrupt their feeding and sharks can be injured by boat propellers." Globally, whale shark populations have dropped more than 50% over the back 75 years.
Quote: "Whale Shark," World Wildlife Foundation.
Sarah Knapton, "Whale shark populations are plunging – and scientists believe they’ve found the ‘smoking gun’," The Telegraph, May 9, 2022.
Image: MarAlliance2018, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons