According to National Geographic, there are no reliable estimates of how many whale sharks remain in the wild. Only recently with increased tourism and scuba diving has the number of whale shark sightings increased. Part of the discrepancy is also due to their supposed migration patterns, which are sometimes difficult to track. Whale-shark.org says there isn’t even enough information to place them in the endangered, vulnerable, or rare camp. One of the most studied areas, Ningaloo, Australia is believed to have a whale shark population between 200-400 fish.
Not only is the population of the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, shrinking – but the actual size of the whale sharks themselves seems to be shrinking as well.
Since whale sharks migrate thousands of miles over the course of a year, they are difficult to track and populations are largely estimated. A recent study has shown an overall average decrease in size for observed whale sharks – on average, whale sharks are more than six feet smaller. There are several possible explanations for this, from smaller sharks breeding more rapidly to older, larger sharks being killed off more rapidly, but contrary to previous studies, the population AND size of the whale shark seems to be dwindling.
Whale sharks are not currently endangered.
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