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Scientists invite public on shark tagging expedition

Posted: April 16, 2010 12:54 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2010 12:36 p.m.
 
Los Angeles -- Non-profit organization Iemanya Oceanica today announced its second shark-tagging research expedition to Baja California, set to take place from Tuesday, July 1 to Saturday, July 5.

The organization is actively seeking up to 20 individuals from the general public to swim with and learn about the conservation of the whale shark, the world's largest fish.

The team will be traveling to Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez in Baja, where whale sharks are known to feed.

During the expedition Iemanya Oceanica (pronounced ya-MAHN-ja) in partnership with Mexico's top shark scientist, Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki of CICESE and world-renowned shark scientist, Dr. Rachel T. Graham, will apply satellite tags to two to three whale sharks.

"We are tracking these animals as part of a larger conservation project to improve management of whale sharks in the Gulf of California," Iemanya President, Laleh Mohajerani said. "The tags tell us about their feeding, breeding and calving habits in the Gulf. At the same time we are able to offer the sharks for adoptions on our Adoptashark.com website, educating the general public about shark conservation and science"

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species on the planet. They can grow to more than 40 feet long, weigh as much as 15 tons, and live as long as 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, they are harmless and feed solely on microscopic marine plants and animals called plankton.

During their most recent tagging trip in October 2009, the organization tagged three sharks, Selena, Calvin, and Hobbes, and made their tracks available at adoptashark.com.

Although Selena's tag disconnected prematurely, Calvin's & Hobbes' tags remained in place for 90 days. Hobbes was tracked as he moved from Bahia de Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas before his tag disconnected. The adventurous Calvin was tracked all the way past the shores of Mexico down into Guatamalan waters.

"This has been a really successful community outreach program for Iemanya," Mohajerani said, "and we are excited to meet the new people who will join us and who want to learn first-hand about sharks and ocean conservation."

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