Duane: August 2010 Archives
Next time you are in Mexico and someone asks you to play with dominoes, you may be in for a very large surprise. Due to the many white spots that mark their gray bodies, in Mexico the common nickname for whale sharks is "dominoes." Indeed these gentle giants do resemble dominoes - very, very large ones, that is. At up to 48 feet in length and weighing up to 25 tons, whale sharks, or Rhincodon Typus as they are known to scientists, are the world's largest fish. Despite their enormous size, comparatively little is known about them. One of the reasons for this is that there are not large numbers of them left in the oceans and for much of the year they are solitary animals.
Less than ten years ago, marine biologists discovered that during the months of June to September the world's largest aggregation of whale sharks takes place off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. In recent years they can be found north of Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun. A smaller number can also be found off of Holbox Island near the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Whale Sharks are listed on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List of Vulnerable Species, meaning their future is in danger.