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Monday, March 9, 2009

Tiny Whale Shark

Measuring just 15 inches long and cradled in the hands of a diver, it’s hard to believe that this little fella will become the biggest fish in the world.

The tiny whale shark specimen - the smallest ever found - was rescued from a hawker in the Philippines and has helped shed new light on the breeding habits of whale sharks.
It was found on Saturday with a rope tied around its tail, secured to a stick poked in the sand in a coastal town near Donsol in Sorsogon province.
Donsol hosts the largest known annual congregation of whale sharks in the world and is thought to be a major feeding ground but little was known about where they went to give birth.
Thanks to the discovery, the archipelago is now thought to be a breeding ground rather than simply a stop-off point for the rare species.
WWF Vice-Chairman Jose Ma Lorenzo Tan said: “In spite of all the research being done worldwide on whale sharks, to this date no one knows where they breed or give birth.
“The Pilar pup was so small, it was probably born here and could have been what biologists call a neo-nate.
“Not only is this animal the smallest live whale shark on record ever to be captured and released here in the Philippines, and arguably, anywhere in the world, it is also the first indication that the Philippines, at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is probably one of the places on the planet where these giants of the sea are born.”

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