Saturday, July 11, 2009

The World’s Smallest Whale Shark

I'd like to share with you one article that i read at www.weirdasianews.com

The town of Donsol in the waters off Pilar in the eastern Philippines was the site of a recent remarkable discovery when a local whale shark “interaction officer” representing the international conservation organization, WWF, found the smallest known wild example of the world’s largest fish (15 inches) leashed to a stake in the mud.

The shark was released after photos and measurements were taken.

smallestshark2 The World’s Smallest Whale Shark picture

The fascinating discovery is important to the survival of the species as the birthing grounds of the whale shark remains an enigma to marine science. Such information could serve to protect this already vulnerable species from certain extinction.

“One key to safeguarding the species is finding their birthing grounds, which remain a mystery. This find is very exciting, as it suggests the Donsol area may be such a place,” said marine conservationist, Brad Norman of the National Geographic Society.

whaleshark11 The World’s Smallest Whale Shark picture

Whale sharks are gentle creatures and harmless to humans. They feed mostly on plankton and can grow to be as big as a bus (about 40 feet long).

Oddly, so little is known about them as they travel along the shores of the Philippines annually from December to May, attracting thousands of tourists. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists whale sharks as a vulnerable species.

whaleshark3 The World’s Smallest Whale Shark picture

The shark’s photos and profile are now a part of Brad Norman’s ECOCEAN Whale-Shark Photo-Identification Library, which means that the creature dubbed P-219 can be the subject of study for as long as it may live, which could be anywhere from 60-100 years.

This species may share the enormity of its size with its more terrifying brethren, but the whale shark poses no danger to humans and is often the example cited when educating the public about the popular misconceptions of all sharks as “man-eaters”. They can be very playful with divers who not only swim freely among them but are also said to be able to scrape parasites and other organisms from their torsos as they lie upside down on the surface!

This species of shark can be found in many places in the world ranging from the waters of Bay island in Honduras to Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, at the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, Seychelles, West Malaysia, Sri Lanka and in Puerto Rico, just to name a few.

The monumental fact remains that this creature is the smallest living whale shark in recorded history.

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