Nemo, the whale shark that returned to Galapagos after 80 days
Saturday, November 7, 2020 – 19:46
A female whale shark tagged on August 14 on Darwin Island, by the team of researchers from the Galapagos Whale Shark project and the Galapagos National Park Directorate, returned to that island 80 days after being registered.
The Galapagos National Park (PNG) reported in a statement that this adult species, approximately 13 meters tall, has a bitten pectoral fin, which is why researcher Sofia Green named it “Nemo.”
After his tagging on Darwin Island, “Nemo” headed some 500 kilometers east of the archipelago, what scientists call the biological corridor, to return to Galapagos and stay within the protected waters near Marchena, Genovesa, north of Isabela and finally reach Darwin’s Arch, from where he began his adventure.
The technical team estimates that “Nemo” sailed about 1,600 kilometers during her journey.
This is the first record of a whale shark that remains in Galapagos, leaves the marine reserve and the insular exclusive economic zone, reaches international waters and returns to Galapagos, the Park said in its statement.
Last August, an expedition of scientists and technicians from the San Francisco de Quito University (USFQ) and the Galapagos National Park Directorate managed to tag ten whale sharks during a 15-day trip to the north of the archipelago.
The marking, in which “Nemo” is included, was given with the aim of studying the horizontal movement of this species, its diving behavior, its reproductive status and its health in general, information that will allow to establish better management measures for the protection of this endangered species.
The marking methodology applied on that occasion was to use a pressure clamp, which due to its characteristics is less invasive and remains in the whale shark for longer.
‘Coco’ traveled to Costa Rica
Another of the marked sharks was ‘Coco’, about 12 meters long, which arrived at the Isla del Coco, in Costa Rica, after three weeks of crossing, the National Park recalled.
This record is of utmost importance for the team of researchers and the scientific community because it confirms the connectivity between the two protected areas and the ecological role of the ecosystems in this region of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, each with its own characteristic and endemism.
“It clearly shows the importance of maintaining regional alliances in the conservation of migratory species, which serve as marine biological corridors, such as the one between Ecuador and Costa Rica,” according to Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park.
The Galapagos archipelago registers one of the largest populations of adult female whale sharks in the world, who use this area as route zones, which makes it a very attractive destination for tourists who enjoy diving with these ocean giants, according to the park.
The archipelago is located about a thousand kilometers from the Ecuadorian continental coasts and thanks to its rich biodiversity it is considered a natural laboratory, which allowed the English scientist Charles Darwin to develop his theory on the evolution and natural selection of species.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) designated Galapagos as a Natural Heritage of Humanity in 1978.
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