Whale shark foraging on baitfish off Djibouti

  • G. BoldrocchiEmail author
  • R. Bettinetti
Short Communication


In the Gulf of Tadjoura, Republic of Djibouti, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828) are known to feed on a wide variety of zooplankton organisms. However, for the first time in this area, seven juvenile whale sharks were filmed feeding on a school of baitfish (anchovies). During the event, zooplankton samples were collected and biomass was calculated. Results support the hypothesis that when dense patches of zooplankton are not available in the Gulf of Tadjoura, whale sharks remain in the area and feed on alternative energy-rich prey, such as baitfish, to meet their energetic demands.


Filter-feeders Feeding ecology Bait-ball Gulf of Aden 



This study has been conducted under the permission of Ministere de l’Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche of Djibouti. The authors would like to thank Dr Moussa (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche de Djibouti) and Mr Mancuso (VerdeAcqua-Istituto per gli Studi sul Mare) for helping with the species identification. Finally, we would like to thank Mr Scarpellini for providing logistic support during samplings.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

No animal testing was performed during this study.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities and are mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theoretical and Applied SciencesUniversity of InsubriaComoItaly

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