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Where Have the Largest Whale Sharks Gone?

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Marine biologists have raised concerns about the whereabouts of the world’s biggest whale sharks after finding that the largest sharks observed in recent years were smaller than those recorded more than a decade ago.

Dr Ana Sequeira of The University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute, who led the study, said it was important to know the size of whale sharks because it provided information about their population status. However, it’s difficult to obtain accurate size estimates as this needs to be done while they are freely swimming.

“A common technique is to compare the sharks with an object of known size while swimming alongside them. However, these estimates are often inaccurate,” Sequeira said. “We found the margin for error increased as the actual size of the target increased, which meant that big sharks of around 10–11 metres were mistakenly thought to be up to about 3 metres smaller.”

The new study, published in Royal Society Open...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.