Mote Marine Lab needs your help to find whale sharks - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Mote Marine Lab needs your help to find whale sharks

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Mote Marine Laboratory Courtesy: Mote Marine Laboratory
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

They are the largest fish in the world: whale sharks! And Mote Marine scientists need help finding them.

One of these harmless giants was spotted off the coast of Venice last month, and scientists are eager to know if more are around.

Scientists say there's still a lot to learn about these elusive creatures.

It's very rare to find them in the waters off southwest Florida, so if some are hanging around here, scientists want to know why.

With their polka-dotted bodies they're unmistakable, but don't let the big fin fool you, whale sharks are harmless.

"They're the largest fish that's ever existed," said Dr. Robert Hueter from Mote Marine Lab.

Hueter is an expert on whale sharks.

He says these elegant giants eat plankton. They can grow to around 45 feet in length and weigh several tons.

A pod of whale sharks was spotted in the waters off Sarasota in 2010, and one creature was seen last month off the coast of Venice. But Hueter says overall, it's rare to see whale sharks in these parts.

"We see them so sporadically that we're trying to figure out what their cycle is here," he said.

Dr. Hueter says whale sharks are known to swim as close as a mile from shore, but scientists don't know much about their behavior in this area of the Gulf, so they're hoping you can help.

Mote Marine lab is asking boaters to keep an eye out. The scientists want to tag them to learn more about their migrating patterns in this area of the gulf.

Hueter said, "[We can] take that data and compare it to other sightings and start to build up an understanding of where these animals are off the coast, what their cycles are, when they appear, how many animals, what their behavior is , these are things we can't possibly do ourselves."

But Hueter says if you're lucky enough to see one, savor the moment.

"It's one of the spectacles of nature to see an animal that big," said Hueter. "People who are out there that see whale sharks, take the time to enjoy this. You'll probably never see it the rest of your life."

And after you're done soaking in the experience, be sure to tell a scientist about it.

Officials want as many details as you can provide- the time, date, number of whale sharks, and a precise location if possible.

If you're able to take pictures, that'd be great too.

If you're lucky to spot these whale sharks, call Mote's Center for Shark Research at 941-388-1827.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Nan Rich touts grassroots campaign for governor

    Nan Rich touts grassroots campaign for governor

    Monday, July 28 2014 1:56 AM EDT2014-07-28 05:56:46 GMT
    Campaign stops like the one in Pinellas County last week are how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich is getting her message out.She doesn't have the money her opponents do. So while the two men who have already been governor are showing up in TV commercials, Rich has a different approach."I feel let the two of them go ahead and sling the mud at each other," Rich said. "I'm trying to stay above that."Richeven lumpsboth men together."On vouchers, I put them in exactly the same category,...
    Campaign stops like the one in Pinellas County last week are how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich is getting her message out.She doesn't have the money her opponents do. So while the two men who have already been governor are showing up in TV commercials, Rich has a different approach."I feel let the two of them go ahead and sling the mud at each other," Rich said. "I'm trying to stay above that."Richeven lumpsboth men together."On vouchers, I put them in exactly the same category,...
  • USF Police investigates sex battery claim

    USF Police investigates sex battery claim

    Monday, July 28 2014 1:18 AM EDT2014-07-28 05:18:33 GMT
    The University of South Florida Police Department is investigating a report of a sexual battery on the Tampa campus. A woman told authorities she was the victim of a sexual battery that occurred at the Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall early Sunday morning. A resident student told police officers a tall, thin black man who she did not know sexually battered her in the residence hall. Police detectives identified a suspect, who told authorities he and the woman had...
    The University of South Florida Police Department is investigating a report of a sexual battery on the Tampa campus. A woman told authorities she was the victim of a sexual battery that occurred at the Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall early Sunday morning. A resident student told police officers a tall, thin black man who she did not know sexually battered her in the residence hall. Police detectives identified a suspect, who told authorities he and the woman had...
  • One dead, one injured on beach after plane crash

    One dead, one injured on beach after plane crash

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:52 AM EDT2014-07-28 04:52:47 GMT
    Man killed and his daughter was critical injured when they were hit by a plane making a crash landing on Caspersen Beach in Venice.Man killed and his daughter was critical injured when they were hit by a plane making a crash landing on Caspersen Beach in Venice.
    An emergency landing by a small plane on Caspersen Beach in Venice claimed the life of a man walking with his young daughter Sunday, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.About 2:45 pm, Venice Airport contacted the sheriff's office regarding a small plane in distress that was unable to make it back to the airport, Sarasota County sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose said in a news release. Instead the pilot was going to try to land on the beach.The 1972 Piper Cherokee airplane hit the man and...
    An emergency landing by a small plane on Caspersen Beach in Venice claimed the life of a man walking with his young daughter Sunday, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.About 2:45 pm, Venice Airport contacted the sheriff's office regarding a small plane in distress that was unable to make it back to the airport, Sarasota County sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose said in a news release. Instead the pilot was going to try to land on the beach.The 1972 Piper Cherokee airplane hit the man and...
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Lakeland man spray-paints garage door with message for thief

    Lakeland man spray-paints garage door with message for thief

    Saturday, July 26 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-07-26 13:53:51 GMT
    Jerry Ashley's message spray-painted on his garage door.Jerry Ashley's message spray-painted on his garage door.
    A Lakeland man, grieving his wife’s passing, has spray-painted his garage door with a message for the thief who stole his late wife’s laptop filled with sentimental photos.
    A Lakeland man, grieving his wife’s passing, has spray-painted his garage door with a message for the thief who stole his late wife’s laptop filled with sentimental photos.
  • Pregnant woman injured in accidental shooting

    Pregnant woman injured in accidental shooting

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:15 AM EDT2014-07-27 15:15:28 GMT
    Hernando County sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting of a five-month pregnant woman late Saturday.About 6:45 p.m. Saturday, theHernando County Sheriff's Office Emergency Communications Center received a call about a shooting at20079 Suncrest Drive in Brooksville.Sheriff's deputies and Hernando County Fire Rescue emergency units responded to thescene, where they found Kathleen Hoover with a head injury, a ...
    Hernando County sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting of a five-month pregnant woman late Saturday.About 6:45 p.m. Saturday, theHernando County Sheriff's Office Emergency Communications Center received a call about a shooting at20079 Suncrest Drive in Brooksville.Sheriff's deputies and Hernando County Fire Rescue emergency units responded to thescene, where they found Kathleen Hoover with a head injury, a ...
  • Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: July 14 -19

    Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: July 14 -19

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:38 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:38:43 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the 30 Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from July 14 to 19, 2014.
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the 30 Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from July 14 to 19, 2014.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.