WA Whale Shark Study A World-First

Happy #WorldOceansDay

WA Whale Shark Study A World-First Photo: Richard Pillans CSIRO

Scientists up at Ningaloo Reef are conducting a groundbreaking new study to learn more about whale sharks.

The whale sharks migration through the coral coast draws thousands of visitors every year, but there is plenty we still don't know about the mysterious, gentle giants.

This World Oceans Day, CSIRO researchers will be collecting DNA samples from the whale shark population in Ningaloo to determine their age, how deep they swim and track just where they migrate to.

"Taking genetic samples from whale sharks will provide a critical piece of data on their age to help us estimate the population on the western coast of Australia and the eastern Indian Ocean," CSIRO Senior Scientist Dr Richard Pillans said.

"We will also be using satellite tags to track where the whale sharks go to gain insight into their behaviour.

"Previous tagging has revealed whale sharks travelling south to Perth and others have been located as far as the Gulf of Carpentaria, 3500 km away," said Dr Pillans.

Whale sharks aggregate at Ningaloo Marine Park between March and August each year to feed on plankton and krill.

More than 29,000 people visited the region in 2017 to swim with them.

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