Tomorrow I will be leaving for Baja, Mexico. There, I will be researching (i.e. swimming with, photographing, and observing) whale sharks. Don’t worry though. They won’t be eating me because they are filter feeders (although they are the largest fish species)! They are also one of the least known about species in the world! They do not have regular migratory patterns (although they migrate through Baja every summer) which makes them really difficult to study. Even basic information such as growth, age at first reproduction, longevity and population size are unknown for the majority of populations.
While we’re there, we will be camping on the beach, getting out on a boat in the mornings to gather data and heading back to the research facility in the afternoons to analyze the data we gathered that morning. Hopefully, we will gather data that will help researchers learn more about whale sharks and how the environment (and human’s interactions with it) affect the species. There has been data suggesting that whale shark populations are declining due to factors such as biomagnification. Photos that we take while we’re in Baja will go through a spot-recognition program to identify individuals because they’re spots are like human fingerprints: none are exactly the same. We’ll also be collecting plankton samples to determine feeding patterns and amounts of food necessary for the whale sharks. Basically we’ll be trying to find out if human interaction with the oceanic ecosystem has caused a drop in life expectancy and reproduction of whale sharks. Which I’m really excited about…
I’m telling you this because I will be gone for the next two weeks camping and doing stuff with whale sharks. I’ve set up a bunch of recipes to pop up while I’m gone so keep checking the blog but if you have any questions for me or anything like that, it’ll take me a little bit to get back to you.
If you’re interested in whale sharks here are some sites you might find informative. And I have a ton of research articles I had to read for the trip so I can send you those if you’re REALLY interested in whale sharks :). I will be back soon and I hope you all have a great two weeks!
- National Geographic
- Florida Museum of Natural History
- Other than that, I’ll tell you guys all about my trip when I get back!