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Spatial and temporal characteristics of whale shark and manta aggregations in the Western Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico

A project of Wildlife Conservation Society in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.

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NameSpeciesLife StageRelease DateLast LocationDays Transmitted
Ek-ha (water star) Whale SharkUndetermined2010-09-082010-10-0729
Palacio Whale SharkAdult2011-04-202011-07-0475
112467 Whale SharkSub-adult2013-06-132013-10-18127
112468 Whale SharkSub-adult2013-06-122013-12-16187
112470 Whale SharkSub-adult2013-06-132013-11-15155
112471 Whale SharkSub-adult2013-06-122013-12-16187
130663 Whale SharkSub-adult2013-06-122013-07-1634
130664 Whale SharkJuvenile2013-06-122013-07-1836
130665 Whale SharkJuvenile2013-06-122013-07-0624
130666 Whale SharkJuvenile2013-06-122013-09-1494
130667 Whale Sharksub-adult2013-06-122013-09-1797
50768c Whale Sharkadult2013-06-122012-10-12-243
Caracol Whale Sharkn/a2011-04-202011-07-2091
Nikte Ha (Flor de agua or Water Flower) Manta RayAdult2010-07-202010-07-244
Holbox Whale SharkAdult2010-07-232010-12-19149
Yalikin Whale SharkJuvenile2010-07-242011-03-22241
Yumbalam Whale SharkAdult2010-07-232011-03-01221
Catoche Whale SharkAdult2010-07-242010-12-21150
85227 Whale Sharkn/a2013-06-122013-07-0119

Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.

Introduction

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and manta rays (Manta spp.)represent some of the most iconic species of fish worldwide and yet only recently are their patterns of movement becoming known. Whale shark and manta site fidelity and movements in relation to ephemeral food sources and a host of environmental factors are being elucidated through a long term and multi-partner project named the MarineMeganet. The Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico possess several aggregations of whale sharks and a large aggregation of manta rays as well as a range of other species of ocean giants that gather seasonally to feed. Although there are no targeted fisheries for the world's largest fish and ray in this region, their large and predictable aggregations remain at risk from ship strikes, uncontrolled tourism and, in the case of the whale shark, the capture of its food source (eg fish that produce the spawn that whale sharks feed on).

To better understand aggregation dynamics of whale sharks and manta rays we are investigating their patterns of movement in relation to ephemeral food pulses and anthropogenic threats by deploying satellite location only tags that will provide near real time tracking information to inform the management and conservation of these species.

Los tiburónes ballena (Rhincodon typus) y las manta rayas (Manta spp.) representan algunas de las especies más emblemáticas de peces en todo el mundo y sin embargo sólo recientemente sus patrones de movimiento han sido revelado. La fidelidad al sitio y los movimientos en lo referente a fuentes alimenticias efímeras y una serie de factores ambientales se están esclareciendose a través de un largo plazo y el proyecto denominado el MarineMeganet. El oeste del Caribe y el Golfo de México poseen varias agrupaciones de tiburones ballena y una gran acumulación de manta rayas, así como una variedad de otras especies de gigantes del océano que se reúnen por temporadas para alimentarse. Aunque no hay ninguna pesca regional enfocada hacia estos planktivoros grandes, sus agregaciones grandes y predecibles permanecen en riesgo de huelgas de la nave, turismo descontrolado y, en el caso del tiburón ballena, la captura de su fuente de alimento (por ejemplo los peces que producen la semilla que se alimentan de tiburones ballena).

Para mejor comprender la dinámica de la agregación de tiburones ballena y de las manta rayas estamos investigando sus patrones de movimiento en relación con pulsos de alimentos efímeras y amenazas antropogénicas mediante la colocación de etiquetas satélites que proporcionarán información para la gestión y conservación de estas especies de seguimiento en tiempo casi-real.

Project Partners

Partners for this project include the Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas of Mexico(Dr. Francisco Remolina), The Department of Fisheries in Belize (Beverly Wade and James Azueta), the Centro de Investigaciones de Ecosistemas Costeros of Cuba (Dr. Fabian Pina), Deep Blue in Utila Honduras (Steve Fox), University of Southern Mississippi in Louisiana, USA (Dr. Eric Hoffmayer)and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the US (Emma Hickerson).

           

           

           

Project Sponsors

This Project is supported by the Summit Foundation, and several donors who wish to remain anonymous.