4ocean Bali crews encountered this whale shark in an area heavily polluted by plastic
Why whale sharks are disappearing from our oceans
Overfishing and microplastic pollution are the two biggest threats driving this endangered species toward extinction.
The world’s whale shark population has decreased by more than half in just 75 years. The Indo-Pacific population has decreased by more than 63% since 1975. The Atlantic population has experienced a slower decline, which is largely due to regulation enforcement, but has still decreased by more than 30% in the same timeframe.
In addition to finding microplastic in their gills and all types of marine debris in their stomachs, researchers have also learned that exposure to the chemical pollutants that are absorbed by ocean plastic can alter whale sharks’ hormones and lead to a variety of health and reproductive issues that hinder population recovery.
Despite their endangered status and global conservation efforts, overfishing remains a major ongoing threat to whale sharks, especially those in unregulated areas, because their meat, fins, and oil are highly valued in international markets. Entanglement and bycatch are also potentially fatal threats associated with the commercial fishing industry.
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4 more ways to help whale sharks
There are many ways to get involved in the clean ocean movement
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Together, we can end the ocean plastic crisis.