Connectivity of whale sharks between Mexico and Colombia

Frida Lara Lizardi

Due to the remote location of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, there has been relatively little research of the marine fauna. Status of shark populations at the Revillagigedo is unknown, although evidence indicates heavy exploitation by fisheries. We propose a study based on photo ID and satellite tagging to generate baseline information and to implement better management strategies for the conservation of sharks. There are two major obstacles: an uncontrolled illegal fishery that is reducing the abundance of pelagic fish assemblages and a lack of information regarding important aspects of the biology of most species of large predatory fishes, particularly on their movements and migratory patterns within and between offshore islands. This project will assess the effectiveness of current protected areas in Mexico and Colombia in the conservation of migratory animals like the whale shark. Revillagigedo and Malpelo are famous for their great biodiversity internationally but their remote location has made research very difficult and sparse. By generating germane information about this species, we will further persuade the governments to tighten protections around both sites. In addition, we will raise awareness about the areas and the important role of the whale sharks in the marine ecosystem.