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Researchers Gently Place Satellite Tracker On Gigantic Whale Shark

Whale sharks are the biggest species of shark in all the oceans. They are the biggest fish and are one of the largest animals on earth, outsized only by a few whale species. They grow to an enormous 18m (55 feet) and are estimated to weigh as much as 45,000kg (100,000lbs). These biologists have come to the Galapagos Islands to swim among these giants and document there migrations. They study skin patterns and injuries to identify individuals and look for repeated sightings. Recording whale sharks over time and in different locations will provide crucial data that will help conserve the species. Occasionally, scientists have the rare opportunity to gently place a satellite tracker on the dorsal fins of one of these giants. The Galapagos Islands are unique and fascinating for many reasons. The islands have formed very recently in geological terms, having been created by volcanic eruptions that sent hot lava upward approximately 4 million years ago. The cooling lava formed pillars and islands that provide habitat for birds and land animals, as well as the creatures of the oceans. The collision of three strong ocean currents bring plankton and nutrients upward, attracting smaller fish and ocean animals, which in turn, attract predators. But surprisingly, these whale sharks do not come to these waters to feed. And almost all of the whale sharks seen here are mature, pregnant females. Where they bear their young is still very much unknown. Scientists are only beginning to understand the animals of the ocean. Whale sharks are a mystery in many ways.