Marine Conservation Society Seychelles

Victoria Mahe, Seychelles

Marine Conservation Society Seychelles

Victoria Mahe, Seychelles

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Vignaud T.M.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | Maynard J.A.,CNRS Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory | Maynard J.A.,Cornell University | Leblois R.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | And 7 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2014

This study presents genetic evidence that whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, are comprised of at least two populations that rarely mix and is the first to document a population expansion. Relatively high genetic structure is found when comparing sharks from the Gulf of Mexico with sharks from the Indo-Pacific. If mixing occurs between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, it is not sufficient to counter genetic drift. This suggests whale sharks are not all part of a single global metapopulation. The significant population expansion we found was indicated by both microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA. The expansion may have happened during the Holocene, when tropical species could expand their range due to sea-level rise, eliminating dispersal barriers and increasing plankton productivity. However, the historic trend of population increase may have reversed recently. Declines in genetic diversity are found for 6 consecutive years at Ningaloo Reef in Australia. The declines in genetic diversity being seen now in Australia may be due to commercial-scale harvesting of whale sharks and collision with boats in past decades in other countries in the Indo-Pacific. The study findings have implications for models of population connectivity for whale sharks and advocate for continued focus on effective protection of the world's largest fish at multiple spatial scales. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


PubMed | Marine Megafauna Foundation, Australian Institute of Marine Science, University of Western Australia, Marine Conservation Society Seychelles and MRAG Ltd
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Royal Society open science | Year: 2016

Genetic and modelling studies suggest that seasonal aggregations of whale sharks (


Rowat D.,Marine Conservation Society Seychelles | Brooks K.S.,Marine Conservation Society Seychelles | Brooks K.S.,University of York
Journal of Fish Biology | Year: 2012

Although the whale shark Rhincodon typus is the largest extant fish, it was not described until 1828 and by 1986 there were only 320 records of this species. Since then, growth in tourism and marine recreation globally has lead to a significant increase in the number of sightings and several areas with annual occurrences have been identified, spurring a surge of research on the species. Simultaneously, there was a great expansion in targeted R. typus fisheries to supply the Asian restaurant trade, as well as a largely un-quantified by-catch of the species in purse-seine tuna fisheries. Currently R. typus is listed by the IUCN as vulnerable, due mainly to the effects of targeted fishing in two areas. Photo-identification has shown that R. typus form seasonal size and sex segregated feeding aggregations and that a large proportion of fish in these aggregations are philopatric in the broadest sense, tending to return to, or remain near, a particular site. Somewhat conversely, satellite tracking studies have shown that fish from these aggregations can migrate at ocean-basin scales and genetic studies have, to date, found little graphic differentiation globally. Conservation approaches are now informed by observational and environmental studies that have provided insight into the feeding habits of the species and its preferred habitats. Notwithstanding these advances, there remain notable gaps in the knowledge of this species particularly with respect to the life history of neonates and adults who are not found in the feeding aggregations. © 2012 The Authors. Journal of Fish Biology © 2012 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.


PubMed | Marine Conservation Society Seychelles
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of fish biology | Year: 2012

Although the whale shark Rhincodon typus is the largest extant fish, it was not described until 1828 and by 1986 there were only 320 records of this species. Since then, growth in tourism and marine recreation globally has lead to a significant increase in the number of sightings and several areas with annual occurrences have been identified, spurring a surge of research on the species. Simultaneously, there was a great expansion in targeted R. typus fisheries to supply the Asian restaurant trade, as well as a largely un-quantified by-catch of the species in purse-seine tuna fisheries. Currently R. typus is listed by the IUCN as vulnerable, due mainly to the effects of targeted fishing in two areas. Photo-identification has shown that R. typus form seasonal size and sex segregated feeding aggregations and that a large proportion of fish in these aggregations are philopatric in the broadest sense, tending to return to, or remain near, a particular site. Somewhat conversely, satellite tracking studies have shown that fish from these aggregations can migrate at ocean-basin scales and genetic studies have, to date, found little graphic differentiation globally. Conservation approaches are now informed by observational and environmental studies that have provided insight into the feeding habits of the species and its preferred habitats. Notwithstanding these advances, there remain notable gaps in the knowledge of this species particularly with respect to the life history of neonates and adults who are not found in the feeding aggregations.

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