Alternate Title

Recent Observations of the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) in the Northcentral Gulf of Mexico

Document Type

Short Communication


The whale shark (Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828) is the world’s largest fish, reaching 15 meters (m) and 18 metric tons (Colman 1997) and is found in all tropical and warm temperate seas (Compagno 2001). The whale shark is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN 2004) and is included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES 2004). Little is known about whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). Only reports on the occurrence of whale sharks off Texas (Baughman 1950, Baughman and Springer 1950, and Hoffman 1981) and accounts of the occurrence and feeding in the northcentral Gulf (Gudger 1939, Springer 1957) are available. Due to the lack of information on whale sharks in the Gulf, we developed a survey (http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/whaleshark_ survey) to compile records of recent sightings and associated observations that are summarized here.

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