Where are the whale sharks?

Where are all the whale sharks? Unfortunately, our tagging expedition was not the success we had hoped it would be. One satellite tag was deployed, but we still have many more to go! Also, it is surprising how few reports have come in through the survey this year; is this because the whale sharks are not around, or because people just aren’t reporting their sightings? Any information on this matter is most helpful.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) Whale Shark Sighting Survey is still collecting data on whale shark distribution in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

If you encounter a whale shark, please participate in GCRL’s ONLINE WHALE SHARK SIGHTINGS SURVEY.

To Report a Sighting:
Please complete the survey at http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/whaleshark
or call 228-872-4257

Information that is helpful to us includes:

[li]Time and duration of encounter[/li][li]Location (GPS coordinates)[/li][li]Approximate size and number of sharks[/li][li]Observed behavior[/li][li]Associated species[/li][li]Photos/video (especially of the region behind the gill slits on the left side of the animal—this is used for identification) [/li][li]Any other distinguishing features (i.e. numbered marker tags located behind the dorsal fin—please notate number)[/li][/ul]

Your participation is greatly appreciated and vital to a better understanding of whale shark movements and habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. Thank you.

For photos and updates on our research become our fan on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/whalesharkresearch

[B]Funny, this thread came up, I was just thinking about something similar. Do you know how many species have “sighting hotlines”? Grouper, turtles, whales, sawfish etc…[/B]

[B]All have different #'s, contacts and websites. A lot of combersome work/way to spend you “off” time.[/B]

[B]So which one takes presedence? [/B]

[B]Not knocking your plea for info, don’t get me [I]wrong[/I] here. [/B]

[B]I just got off a trawler (around dredging) where we were catching turtles to take them further offshore and release them. We put transponders on a few, but the funny part was that one of the [I]upper biologists, [/I]for that contractor/USM?, wanted us to "catch’ a “male” loggerhead. lol ok let me pull that out of my …[/B]

[B]Back to what I’m saying is, the government and/or contractors need to make it easier and free for people to report sightings.[/B]

[B]You can supply a small ipad/ipod (?) with a program that is touch key with pictures for example, so you can mark location, and key features without trying to find pen, camera ect. I hope you get the idea. [/B]

[B]It would be inexpensive to develop a program for universal reporting, because every entity involved would share the funding. The device would only be able to upload info specifically for that program. [/B]

[B]Another factor, if someone reports a certain species, does that mean the information “used”, will later restrict them from fishing, transiting, anchoring in those waters?[/B]

[B]And I know you can’t pay for the info, because we would no longer have any rarities. lol[/B]

[B]But there are ones out there that take time, when the weather is right, no rain, whatever it is in on the surface, in view, blah blah… and thanks to them.[/B]

[B]I know the theory of “loosing funding” without “numbers/data” so I hope you do well, but you may want to find a contingency ad, for when this thread gets lost in shuffle.[/B]

[B]You can also, post “results/findings” here, where they don’t have spend more free time finding out what happened to info (log into website, enter #'s, etc.)[/B]

[B]Good luck on keeping an incentive going.[/B]

I saw more than a couple whale sharks in Bahia de La Paz, Sea of Cortez this past March. Not the GOM, but damn cool, if I say so myself.