The Galápagos Islands were host to a special event recently, as highlighted in Forbes. Whale sharks arrived and underwent ultrasounds for the first time! 22 female whale sharks were assessed using underwater ultrasonography and a novel blood-sampling technique. In this study, the female whale sharks were mature, but not pregnant, and as a result, there was no evidence of embryos or egg cases found.
This is the first time these techniques were used out in the wild and will revolutionize how researchers can further understand the physiology of this vulnerable marine species.
TIRN’s very own Dr. Alex Hearn, was mentioned in the article, discussing the hope scientists had that whale sharks showing up would be pregnant. Dr. Hearn, who serves on TIRN’s Science and Policy Advisory Board, shared his expertise.
Darwin Island is the only place on the planet where pregnant whale sharks are regularly seen, he shared, “It’s a mystery why they are here, but we believe they may use the Island as a pit stop before moving into the open ocean to give birth.”
You can read more about the study and whale sharks in the original article on Forbes.