Sunday, May 15, 2011

Whale Shark Afuera

The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest of all fishes, a gentle giant that feeds on plankton and fish eggs. They spend most of their lives in deep waters far from land. A diver in a place like Hawaii is considered lucky to see just one passing by. Until recently the Whale Shark was thought to live a solitary existence. Since 2002 there have been stories from Mexican fisherman of huge congregations. 2006 saw the largest concentration ever seen, an event called the Afuera. Nearly every year since then hundreds of Whale Sharks have gathered here on the surface of the Caribbean.

This amazing event is little-known to the outside world. This year discovery of the Afuera has reached the level of a peer-reviewed paper:

An Unprecedented Aggregation of Whale Sharks, Rhincodon typus, in Mexican Coastal Waters of the Caribbean Sea

Sometime this Summer the Whale Sharks are likely to come again, for reasons human scientists are just starting to figure out. The natural world is far stranger than we even imagine.

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