The largest fish in the ocean, known as whale sharks, are relocating to water off the coast of the Azores islands in the North Atlantic near the country of Portugal. Experts think that the whale sharks are moving because of rising sea temperature caused by climate change.
The largest fish in the ocean, known as whale sharks, are relocating to water around the Azores Islands in the North Atlantic west of Portugal.
Experts think that the whale sharks are moving because of rising sea temperature caused by climate change.
The fish can reportedly grow to be more than 41 feet long, weighing up to 47 thousand pounds, and they prefer water that is between 79 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers studying the movement of the whale sharks analyzed data collected over the course of 16 years from 1998 to 2013.
The results of the study show a significant increase in the number of whale sharks in the area after an especially warm year in 2008. While the waters around the islands were typically cooler than the gentle giants prefer, they have now warmed up to their preferred range.
Lead researcher Pedro Afonso of the University of the Azores is quoted as saying: “Our findings underline the potential for an increase of the wider Azores region's importance as an oceanic habitat for the whale shark in the North Atlantic in years of exceptionally high water temperature, and for a concomitant shift in the whale shark distribution within the Atlantic Ocean, as predicted by global modeling studies.”
The researchers also noticed these areas have an increased seafloor slope with an abundance of chlorophyll-a, a source of food for the whale sharks.