Global collaboration sees whale sharks on the cover of PNAS

31 May, 2022

With great pride, and a lot of hard work, the TAJRC lab is pleased to announce that one of Carlos Duarte's most recent papers, led by Freya Womersley, and with a whole host of other collaborators, including David Sims at the MBA, has been selected for the cover of the PNAS journal – exploring the movement ecology of whale sharks and a potential cause of their decline.

The stats:

  • Over 50 collaborators from all corners of the globe
  • ~350 whale sharks
  • 7 years tagging and tracking their movements (2005 – 2019)
  • 1 world map of whale shark hotspots amongst shipping lanes

The conclusions:

The density of whale sharks correlates significantly with the density of marine traffic. Or, in other words: more than 90% of the horizontal space used by whale sharks, and 50% of their vertical space / depths reached, were also in regions of busy shipping lanes.

This points to a possible cause in whale shark mortality despite their protected status: shipping strikes occurring during their movements across the seas. Indeed, several tags were seen to move into these areas, and sink to the bottom of the ocean – signs of a lethal collision between whale shark and boat.

The study highlights the need for international shipping regulations for migratory megafauna, in order to enhance their protection.

To read more, check out the full article of the papers here:

DOI: (or in the story highlights).

Image: Ollie Clarke