Whale Shark Research in the Northern 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
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.
Follow these links for details on field work with whale sharks.
- 2006 - Scientific Encounters with Whale Sharks
Follow GCRl scientists, photographers, and a film maker on an expedition to document whale shark aggregations in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
- 2009 - Whale Shark "Invasion"
During August 2009, more than 60 whale shark sightings were reported off the Alabama/Florida coastline. GCRL researchers were on the water to observe, courtesy of two Gulf Coast skippers who donated their services.
- 2009 - Whale Shark Population Connectivity Discoveries
In the summer of 2009 researchers were able to document the movement of individual whale sharks between the northern Gulf of Mexico and the southern Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Sea.
- 2009 - Tagging Expedition
Follow a GCRL research team and others on a successful expedition to tag and collect data from whale sharks.