Whale Shark Research in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Whaleshark research in the Gulf of Mexico
A large whale shark surface filter feeds in the northern Gulf of Mexico,
one of 16 whale sharks encountered during a research cruise. Photo by GCRL

Background

Whale shark encounters by scientists at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory prompted the initiation of ongoing research activities and these web pages. In September 2002, GCRL scientists sighted two whale sharks swimming among a mixed school of yellowfin, blackfin and skipjack tuna southeast of the Mississippi River Delta. In June 2006, GCRL scientists and scientists from the NOAA Fisheries Service encountered an aggregation of 16 whale sharks.

Through GCRL's online whaleshark sightings report system members of the public have made key contributions to our knowledge of whale sharks. Once thought to be rare in the Gulf of Mexico, whale sharks may be more common than previously thought. GCRL's work with whale sharks continues, with a particular concern regarding the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill on these animals.

Research Events

Follow these links for details on field work with whale sharks.