Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 5, pp 1157–1166 | Cite as

Movements of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) tagged at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

  • S.G. WilsonEmail author
  • J.J. Polovina
  • B.S. Stewart
  • M.G. Meekan
Research Article


Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith) aggregate seasonally (March–June) to feed in coastal waters off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Pop-up archival tags were attached to 19 individuals (total lengths 4.5–11.0 m) at this location in early May of 2003 and 2004 to examine their horizontal and vertical movements. The long-term movement patterns of six whale sharks were documented, all of which travelled northeast into the Indian Ocean after departing Ningaloo Reef. They used both inshore and offshore habitats and made extensive vertical movements, occasionally to a depth of at least 980 m. Frequent up-and-down movements, diel vertical migration, and crepuscular descents were evident in the depth records. The sharks experienced ambient temperatures ranging between 4.2 and 28.7°C and encountered gradients of up to 20.8°C on dives.


Bluefin Tuna White Shark Bigeye Tuna Whale Shark Deep Dive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This project received funding and support from the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program, Woodside Energy, BHP Billiton Petroleum, Chevron, the whale shark research fund administered by the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the University of New Hampshire, U.S. Scuba and PADI Australia. We thank the staff of CALM in Exmouth, particularly Roland Mau, Jennie Cary and Ben Fitzpatrick, for helping with logistics. This research was reviewed and approved by the animal ethics committees of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and CALM.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.G. Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J.J. Polovina
    • 3
  • B.S. Stewart
    • 2
  • M.G. Meekan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Hubbs-SeaWorld Research InstituteSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Pacific Islands Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries ServiceHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceDarwin, NTAustralia

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