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Image - Where to find the world's biggest sharks

Image of the week - Where to find the world's biggest sharks

Image courtesy AquaMaps

Thanks to the grid-based application AquaMaps (see this week's "Plenty more fish in the sea?"), researchers find it much easier to display in graphic form where various marine species are located. For example, the map above shows the most likely places to locate the species known as "whale sharks" (Rhincodon typus), the world's largest sharks. Red shows the greatest abundance, yellow the least abundance, and blue shows none.

This reporter can vouch for the whale sharks' relative abundance off the Australian coast, having seen two while diving with marine biologist and shark expert Dennyse Newbound of the Department of Zoology of the University of Western Australia at Perth while researching an article for a wildlife publication. Appropriately enough, the creatures were seen near Shark Bay, Western Australia. (Fortunately, the animals are harmless, eating nothing bigger than plankton. Tourists can now pay a relatively small fee and dive with them on ecotourism cruises.) Scientists such as Newbound hope that the more we know about such mysterious and elusive oceanic creatures, the better we will be able to protect them from population crashes.

-Dan Drollette, European Editor, iSGTW

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