Monday, January 23, 2006

Whale Shark Shrinking

This article explains why we haven't seen many whale sharks here in Timor, they're just too damn small!

Researchers: Whale Shark Shrinking
January 19, 2006 12:30 p.m. EST
Hector Duarte Jr. - All Headline News Staff Reporter

London, England (AHN) – Researchers say whale sharks off the coast of Australia are getting smaller. In one decade, the average size recorded by observers has shrunk from 7 to 5 meters.

Whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, are caught for food in some East Asian countries and Australian researchers fear this could be the cause of the decline. The fish is listed as being vulnerable and one of the authors of the study says the new finding is much cause for concern.

These findings were provided by ecotourism companies that run tours to watch and swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Marine Park, off the northwest Aussie coast.

Says Mark Meekan of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims), "We have obtained those datasets and analysed them over time and essentially what we have seen in the last decade is a decline in average size of shark from 7m to 5m. Now, if you consider that the sharks probably aren't sexually reproductive or mature until they're 6 or 7m long - that's a very worrying sign."