Whale Shark Research
The world’s largest fish, the whale shark, is currently listed as endangered by the
International Union for the Conservation of Animals. In an attempt to develop a risk
assessment for this species to aid in conservation efforts, researchers from The University
of Southern Mississippi-Center for Fisheries Research and Development, the Bureau
of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), and Blue World Research Institute (BWRI) are collaborating on a two-year study.
During this study, whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico will be tagged to gather telemetry
and behavioral information to increase knowledge about the species and to help inform
BOEM’s decision making for offshore energy development.
In 2023, we have tagged 10 whale sharks. Many thanks to the Okaloosa Coastal Resource
Team for their collaboration in this effort.
Whale Sharks Tagged in 2023
The University of Southern Mississippi-Center for Fisheries Research and Development
has been studying whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico for the last two decades.
- Hoffmayer, E.R., McKinney, J.A., Franks, J.S., Hendon, J.M. Driggers III, W.B., Falterman,
B., Galuardi, B., and Byrne, M. 2020. Seasonal occurrence, horizontal movements, and
habitat use patterns of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the Gulf of Mexico. Frontiers
in Marine Science. 7:598515. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09777
- Rooker, J., M. Dance, R.J.D. Wells, M. Ajemian, B. Block, M. Castleton, J.M. Drymon,
B. Falterman, J. Franks, N. Hammerschlag, J. Hendon, E. Hoffmayer, R. Kraus, J. McKinney,
D. Secor, G. Stunz, and J. Walter. 2019. Population connectivity of pelagic megafauna
in the Cuba-Mexico-United States triangle. Scientific Reports. 9: 1663. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-38144-8
- McKinney, J.A., Hoffmayer, E.R., Franks, J.S., Hendon, J.M., Driggers III, W.B. 2013.
Seasonal habitat use of whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico, USA 2003 - 2013.
PeerJ PrePrints 1:e93v1 http://dx.doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.93v1
- Hoffmayer, E.R., McKinney, J.A., Franks, J.S., Hendon, J.M., Driggers III, W.B. 2013.
Whale Shark Aggregations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. PeerJ PrePrints 1:e85v1.
- McKinney, J.A., Hoffmayer, E.R., Wu, W., Fulford, R., and Hendon, J.M. 2012. Feeding
habitat of the whale shark, Rhincodon typus, in the northern Gulf of Mexico determined
using species distribution modeling. Marine Ecological Progress Series 458: 199-211.