Alternate Title

Whale Sharks of the Western Caribbean: An Overview of Current Research and Conservation Efforts and Future Needs for Effective Management of the Species

Document Type



Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are seasonal visitors to four sites in the Western Caribbean, 3 of which are encompassed by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Predictable encounters with the world's largest fish have raised this species' profile globally and led to several research and conservation efforts that aim to elucidate the need for information for the species management and balance the growing demand for highly lucrative encounter tourism. Tagging studies have demonstrated that the whale shark population is relatively small and likely forms a single population. Individuals move throughout the region between 3 of 4 known feeding sites and are capable of timing their movements to pulses of productivity. Whale shark tourism's dramatic growth has led to a range of protective measures and scientific studies both precautionary and reactionary that require better harmonization throughout the region to be effective. This paper will provide an overview of the status of whale shark research and conservation efforts in the Western Caribbean and identify future management needs to minimize anthropogenic impacts and enable continued whale shark visitation at key feeding sites.

First Page


Last Page