Shipping could be causing the death of the whale shark around the world

Industrialized maritime transport represents a “significant threat” to the whale shark, and may be causing a significant number of deaths worldwide, concludes a study in which researchers from the University of Porto participated.

In a statement, the Center for Research in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO) of the University of Porto clarifies that the study, published in the scientific journal PNAS, indicates that “deadly collisions between whale sharks and ships are largely underestimated”. .

“Since this species spends a lot of time on the surface and usually forms coastal aggregations, it is thought that collisions with ships could be causing a substantial number of deaths. However, there was no way to monitor this threat in the past”, stresses the center.

Whale sharks can grow up to 20 meters in length and feed on zooplankton (a set of aquatic organisms), helping to regulate their levels in the ocean.

According to the research, coordinated by scientists from 50 international institutions, these collisions may “even be the main reason” why whale shark populations “are in decline”.

Over the course of the study, researchers tracked the movements of 350 whale sharks (through the Global Shark Movement) and ships around the world by satellite, identifying areas where the risk of collision is high.

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