Sharks are one of the fiercest and most fascinating creatures in the ocean. These hunters have been a source of terror for swimmers, given rise to thousands of stories from fishermen, and inspired high grossing entertainment such as the movie “Jaws”. It has been over twelve years since I first saw the film, though I rationally do not expect to find myself in a circumstance such as the fishermen in the movie, I still illogically fear going more than thirty feet out when I swim.
According to the past observations, my fears could be realized in the oceans waters off of the Yucatan Peninsula. These waters are going to be full of plankton, which happens to be the primary source of food for the great whale sharks. Hundreds of these giants are going to show up for the feeding frenzy. Whale sharks are filter feeders and vacuum in plankton and the eggs from fishes such as tuna that rise up to the top.
It is a seldom known fact that the largest fish in the world is considered to be the whale shark. These are incredibly mysterious creatures due to their tendency to go on incredibly deep dives. According to Robert Hueter, the director of the shark research center at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, the deepest recorded dive of the whale shark is estimated at 6,325 feet (1,928 meters). These animals also travel large distances, as one of the sharks being tracked swam 4,500 miles in 150 days. Since whale sharks are constantly traveling, very little is known about their lifestyle and reproduction patterns.
A rare appearance of these sharks on the surface in such large numbers will provide researchers with an opportunity to learn more about these creatures. It has been speculated that these creatures go to great depths of the ocean in order to reproduce; however, no cases have ever been recorded or observed. Another mystery surrounding this fish is incredibly high male to female ratios. These questions may finally be answered, as scientists are determined to track these creatures very carefully after this upcoming feeding frenzy comes to the end.
To read the full article, visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20110308/sc_livescience/whalesharkfeedingfrenziesmystifyscientists
Check out a collection of whale shark pictures at: http://www.livescience.com/13132-whale-sharks-underwater-photos.html
Written by: Sergey Chikvashvili