The effects of Rhincodon typus (the Whale Shark) on Coral Reefs do to their feeding of larvae during Coral and Coral Fishes spawning aggregations.

Essay by icanbne1ucUniversity, Bachelor's April 2008

download word file, 10 pages 4.0

Downloaded 17 times

Rhincodon typuss are the world's largest living fish. First identified in 1828, they are most known for feeding on aggregations of fish and coral spawning. These feedings have been observed in the Ninagloo Reef, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Belize, and La Paz, Mexico. One can only begin to imagine the impact these feedings have on fish and coral populations. Comparison of previous research, feeding observations, feeding capabilities of the Rhincodon typus and an understanding of spawning densities of fish and coral should shed light on roughly what damage is being done to the coral reefs by this enormous predator. This study will support the concern that spawning aggregations of coral reef fishes should be protected and furthermore if this will affect the future of Rhincodon typus.

IntroductionRhincodon typuss can process over 1,500 gallons of water each hour (Diamond 1985). They are known to feed at dawn and dusk.

Although they usually feed twice a day, they do not need to feed frequently as one study observed a live Rhincodon typus pup which was removed from its dead mother maintained in captivity in Japan. It did not eat for the first 17 days, even though it swam constantly. This suggests that the pup had substantial stores of stored energy (Heyman 2001).

The circulation of phytoplankton needs to be taken into consideration as it is part of their diet along with fish eggs and small marine life.

Rhincodon typuss distribution are similar to that of Coral Reefs and feeding frenzies have been recorded during spawning of various species of Coral and Coral Fish at these sites.

Rhincodon typussRhincodon typuss weighs over 10 tons, and is estimated to reach a 20 meter length. They are estimated to live 60 – 100 years, and become sexually mature...