Whale shark Rhincodon typus
Whale sharks are slow-moving filter feeders and the largest living fish species. They are found in tropical and warm oceans and aggregate to feed at coastal sites around the world, including Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Because whale sharks grow slowly and reproduce infrequently they are particularly vulnerable to fishing. Australia's whale shark population, which is shared with many other countries in south-east Asia is listed as threatened. Understanding more about how often they breed, how many offspring they produce and how populations are connected may hold the key to their protection. Tagging is one of the methods being used by researchers to study the Ningaloo whale shark aggregation. Each tagged shark contributes valuable information about the population's migration patterns.