Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gulf Coast Whale Sharks - Worst Fears Realized

When the Gulf oil platform exploded and sank we began ongoing whale shark coverage in the region on the 25th of April.

That coverage culminated in a first person interview with Dr.Hoffmayer from the Gulf Coast Research Lab on May 24th.

Our blog coverage lead the major media in the ongoing and salient Gulf whale shark story.

Read Whale Sharks - Prime Time.

Sadly, some of the worst fears of this team have been realized this week as Whale sharks have been seen in the most toxic areas of the Gulf oil region struggling to survive.

"Our worst fears are realized. They are not avoiding the spill area," said Eric Hoffmayer, the University of Southern Mississippi scientist who found the large aggregation last week. "Those animals are going to succumb. Taking mouthfuls of oil is not good. It is not the toxicity that will kill them. It's that oil is going to be sticking to their gills and everything else."

As with 90% of shark research stories this one is frustrating for one basic fact. Despite many requests for tag funding that might have allowed Dr.Hoffmayer and his team to fully understand the movements of these animals he was unable to secure the number of tags needed to get the work done. Now his work will be one of "intuitive guesswork" for the next few seasons as he and his team try and understand the effects of oil on these magnificent migratory animals.

Complete Story.