This past August, scientists from Mare Nostrum Foundation joined the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, Galapagos Science Center, MigraMar and the Galapagos National Park, to take part in an important expedition to the Galapagos, where they conducted research at Darwin and Wolf Islands. Often referred to as the “sharkiest place on the planet”, these islands are well known due to the abundance of sharks and other pelagic animals.
During the expedition, a total of ten whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) were tagged, with the purpose of better understanding their horizontal movement, dive patterns, reproductive stage, and other health related factors. The information obtained will be especially useful in the development of specific management plans, which we hope will provide greater protection against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The tagging method used consisted of attaching the tag to the dorsal fin using a clamp, which is less invasive and is able to stay on the whale shark for a long period time. Furthermore, it is important to mention that twenty-five individual whale sharks were identified through photos of their unique spot patterns (similar to human fingerprints) and will be uploaded to the “Wildbook for Whale Sharks”, where they will be used in a global study of aggregations and sightings of individuals around the world.
Another important result of the expedition involved the tagging of seven Yellowfin Tuna, (Thunnus albacares), in order to develop a better understanding of their migration patterns. The data obtained from this research will be used to understand tuna movements in relation to climate change, which will help in creating proper management plans as sea temperatures change.